Reprinted from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights
In accord with
Section 206 of Public Act 453 of 1976, which is known as the
Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, an employer, labor organization, or
employment agency shall not print, circulate, post, mail, or otherwise
cause to be published a statement, advertisement, notice, or sign
relating to employment by the employer, or relating to a membership in
or classification or referral for employment by the labor organization,
or relating to a classification or referral for employment by the
employment agency, which indicates a preference, limitation,
specification, or discrimination, based on religion, race, color,
national origin, age, sex, height, weight or marital status. Except as
permitted by rules promulgated by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission
or by applicable federal law, an employer or employment agency shall
Make or use a written or oral inquiry or form of application that
elicits or attempts to elicit information concerning the religion, race,
color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status of a
2. Make or keep a record of information described above in subdivision (a) or to disclose that information.
3. Make or use a
written or oral inquiry or form of application that expresses a
preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on
religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight or
marital status of a prospective employee.
Section 206 of
Public Act 220 of 1976, which is known as the Michigan Handicappers'
Civil Rights Act, provides for similar protection for the handicapped if
the specific handicap is unrelated to the individual's ability to
perform the duties of a particular job or position. The Michigan
Department of Civil Rights has developed a Pre-employment Inquiry Guide
to assist employers and employment agencies in complying with both Acts
220 and 453 in regard to pre-employment inquiries and securing certain
data relating to job applicants. The Guide constitutes an interpretation
of the Acts in this regard and is intended to aid in preventing
practices which have a high potential for unlawful discrimination.
Nothing in the guidelines or Acts prevents employers from hiring
competent and reliable workers. The purpose of the Act is not to
interfere with an employer's right to hire qualified persons but to
prevent those characteristics, which are not job-related, such as race,
sex, marital status, et cetera, from influencing the selection process.
One of the most
effective ways to ensure sound selection procedures and to avoid
unlawful discrimination is for employers to carefully develop written,
job-related position descriptions which outline the required skills and
abilities for each position. Obviously, the purpose of a sound selection
process is to obtain good employees who can meet specific work
requirements and successfully perform the particular job duties. A
person's race, sex, marital status, handicap, et cetera are not
indicators of an individual's potential to be a good worker. Keeping in
mind the specific job requirements and only the pertinent skills
required to perform the particular job, employers may elicit adequate
information on their employment applications which will aid in making a
good selection. Employers can deprive themselves of valuable employees
by stereotyping rather than judging applicants on an individual basis.
In screening employment applicants, assumptions should not be made based
on an applicant's identity or status. For example, it should not be
assumed that because a woman has small children she will not be able to
work odd hours. The issue is whether she can, in fact, work odd hours
and not whether she has children. Therefore, the applicant should be
asked directly whether she can work odd hours and not if she has
children. It is essential that employers carefully examine the
job-relatedness of all questions and develop different employment
applications from different job groups. For example, more detailed
information is needed about an applicant for a highly technical computer
position than a person seeking a job as a laborer. The following
question areas normally constitute the core of the application:
1. Identification of the applicant (name, address and telephone).
2. Applicant's interests (which jobs, salary levels).
3. Summary of the applicant's background (education and training, work history, special qualifications and skills).
essential information and questions designed to elicit such information
are basic to an employment application form. Beyond this basic
information, employers must design questions to elicit job-related
information which will be applicable and useful in meeting their needs.
Obviously, questions which elicit information that may have an adverse
impact on classes protected by civil rights legislation should be
Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide includes certain informational items that
are considered unlawful pre-employment inquires, but may be needed for
payroll and fringe benefit purposes (marital status, number of
dependents, et cetera). This information should not be requested on the
employment application but can be lawfully secured subsequent to hiring.
It should have no bearing in the selection process. In accord with
Section 206 of both Acts 220 and 453 and Michigan Civil Rights
Commission Rules, employers may be granted approval by the Commission to
collect data needed to carry out approved affirmative action plans.
This constitutes the granting of exceptions to collecting data
prohibited by Acts 220 and 453. Employers may apply to the Michigan
Civil Rights Commission, 1200 Sixth Street, Detroit 48226, and include a
copy of the affirmative action plan. Employees may also apply to the
Commission for exemptions on the basis that religion, national origin,
age, height, weight or sex is a bona fide occupational qualification.
However, there must be sufficient showing that an exemption is essential
to the normal operation of the business based on business necessity.
Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide can be used as an effective tool in
minimizing the number of employment discrimination complaints, which
benefits employers because of the financial savings of not having to
defend such complaints. Employers who wish to have their employment
applications reviewed may do so by forwarding a request and a copy of
the application form to the Director of Enforcement, Michigan Department
of Civil Rights, 1200 Sixth Street, Detroit 48226.
Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide is based on the provisions of Public Acts
220 and 453 of 1976*. Employers who are subject to Public Act 453 may
apply to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission for an exemption on the
basis that religion, national origin, age, height, weight, or sex is a
bona fide occupational qualification essential to the normal operation
of the business or enterprise. Upon sufficient showing by the employer,
the Commission may grant an exception. An employer may have a bona fide
occupational qualification on the basis of religion, national origin,
sex, or marital status, height and weight without obtaining prior
exemption from the Commission, provided that an employer who does not
obtain an exemption shall have the burden of establishing that the
qualification is reasonably necessary or essential to the normal
operation of the business. In the absence of business necessity, a
selection criterion should not be used if it has a disproportionately
burdensome effect, or disparate impact, upon those of a particular race,
color, national origin, sex, age, marital status, religion, height,
weight, or the handicapped.
to the list of unlawful questions are permitted by applicable federal
law or by rules promulgated by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission,
including rules relating to affirmative action plans if approved by the
Commission. Upon application to the Commission, employers may be
permitted to make pre-employment inquires prohibited by the Public Acts
220 and 453 for purposes not inconsistent with the Constitution and
3. It is
unlawful to make or use a written or oral inquiry or form of application
that elicits information concerning the handicap of a prospective
employee for reasons contrary to the provisions or purposes of Act 220
*This guide also
reflects the requirements of Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of
1964, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. 2/92
PRE-EMPLOYMENT INQUIRY GUIDE