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Vermont Pre-Employment Inquiries (Interviewing): What you need to know

The Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits employers from printing, publishing, or circulating any employment advertisement that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, place of birth, age, or physical or mental condition, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) (VT Stat. Tit. 21 Sec. 495 et seq.). As a general rule, an employer will violate the Act by asking questions about any of these characteristics, either on an application form or in a job interview. The law applies to all employers in the state. Additional information is available.
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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) policy. The Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits employers requesting or requiring a test for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virus as a condition of employment or from discriminating based on an individual's positive test result (VT Stat. Tit. 21 Sec. 495(5), (6))).
BFOQ exception. An employer may make an employment inquiry about one of the characteristics listed above only if it is reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer's business and there is no less intrusive way to ensure that the applicant will be able to perform the essential functions of the job in question. In order to be a BFOQ, a characteristic must be absolutely essential to the applicant's ability to perform the job.
For example, being female would be a legitimate BFOQ for a person applying for a job as a model of women's clothing. Similarly, being a practicing member of a Methodist church would be a legitimate BFOQ for a person applying for the position of minister in a Methodist church.
The BFOQ exception applies only in limited circumstances, and, in general, courts have been extremely reluctant to sanction otherwise discriminatory practices on BFOQ grounds. Employers should use caution in relying on the BFOQ exception and should consult with legal counsel before making any inquiries on the basis of a BFOQ.

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