Montana Application Forms: What you need to know

Under the Montana Human Rights Act, an employer may not use an application form that directly or indirectly asks questions pertaining to an applicant's race, creed, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, physical or mental disability, or age (MT Code Sec. 49-2-101 et seq.). An employer may, however, in very narrow circumstances, make inquiries that genuinely relate to an individual's ability to perform the job satisfactorily (i.e., that are based on a bona fide occupational qualification). There is additional information and a discussion of prohibited preemployment inquiries and a list of impermissible inquiries and permissible alternatives.
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Employers with operations in more than one state should periodically review their application forms to ensure compliance with state and local requirements. A California court ruling pointed out that disclaimers and statements about requirements or exceptions under state law should be worded appropriately and placed conspicuously in application forms (Starbucks Corp. v. Superior Court, 168 Cal. App. 4th 1436 (2008)). The employer in this case used a standard form nationwide that included a statement specific to California applicants. The disclaimer was in boldface lettering on the back of the application form. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the employer, but noted "significant problems" with the placement of the disclaimer at the very end of a long boldface paragraph that contained numerous provisions for applicants in other states. The court's opinion serves as a reminder to employers to use state-specific application forms or, if using multistate application forms, to make sure that the forms provide unambiguous notice ...

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