"Apprentice" question legal?

Last night on the "Apprentice," Donald Trump asked a candidate if he was gay.  I know it's not a real job interview, but should the producers have left this question in the show?  Is it illegal to ask an applicant about his or her sexual orientation in every state or in only certain states?


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Yes, that bothered me. I know the show is not a typical employment situation, but what if viewers think it's OK to ask those kind of questions because Donald did? I guess it's a lot to ask for Trump to set a good example, but still ...    
  • It depends on where your company operates.  In California, sexual orientation is one of the characteristics protected from discrimination in employment. 
  • I think that this question is just in bad taste (which, considering Donald's behavior lately, isn't that surprising).  Some states have laws prohobiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  I did read, however, that even if your state does not have a law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, some courts have allowed employees to argue that harassment based on gender stereotyping, or someone's "failure" to fit into traditional male or female sterotypes, can be a form of illegal gender discrimination under federal law.  

  • And, sometimes it's not even the entire state--in Detroit, you can't discriminate based on sexual orientation, but that same prohibition doesn't apply to the rest of Michigan, as far as I know.  If you are an employer with multiple locations, I'd err on the side of caution and avoid such questions--if you're not careful, you could find that it's illegal to ask a question in one location even when it's not somewhere else.

     And it also seems that "As California goes..." so eventually, does everyone else. What I mean is that California is pretty progressive and is often the first state to make a law regarding employment, but it seems that a lot of other states eventually follow their lead. So Donald Trump's question, though inappropriate, may not be illegal yet in New York (or wherever he is these days)...but in a few years it may be.


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