Q. We are currently interviewing for an event coordinator position, which would require the person to frequently work well beyond the usual 9-to-5 workweek. Is there a way we can ask about personal situations and make it clear that missing these events because of family obligations would not be tolerated?
A. Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and federal law, family status and marital status are not protected against discrimination per se. However, your company’s employees and job applicants may be explicitly protected on the basis of family and/or marital status by local ordinance, depending upon where your company is located.
Even without a local ordinance, however, it could be considered gender discrimination to raise the issue of family obligations interfering with job performance with a female candidate during a job interview if you do not ask the same questions of male candidates.
Rather than raising the issue of family obligations to a job candidate, you should prepare a written job description that states as a job requirement attendance at events during specified “after hours” times.
At any job interview for the position in question, you should make it clear that attendance at such events is a job requirement. Ask all job applicants if they would have any problem meeting that job requirement. If anyone responds “yes,” that person would not be an appropriate candidate for the job, regardless of the reason.