Tests May Violate Privacy and Law

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

Employee Rights Attorney

Mission Viejo, California

Q: “After a job interview, I was asked to come back for a test. The interviewer did not say what the test would be. It turned out to be a battery of psychological tests and what I believe was an IQ test.

“I was never offered a job, and I’m now bothered that this company has highly personal information about me. It also bothers me that they did not gain my informed consent to take these tests.

“Do I have a right to the originals of these tests? How should I approach the company?”

A: “A psychological or intelligence test may violate privacy and discrimination laws. These tests sometimes ask very subtle questions to gain information about religious, political or sexual beliefs of the applicant. Such motives may not be readily apparent on the surface. It would certainly be easier to evaluate the legality of such a test if you could obtain a copy of it.

“Although you may have an argument that the company violated your privacy rights, this must be balanced against the interests of the employer to obtain certain information on a reasonable basis. You have to consider the type of job for which you were applying. Jobs requiring skills might justify questions that would otherwise constitute an invasion of privacy.

“Even if you object to these tests, it may be difficult to prove a connection between the results of the tests and the fact that you did not get the job. If possible, compare your qualifications with those of the person who eventually got the job.

“You have a right to inspect these tests and to get a copy, although the company is entitled to keep the original. You can certainly ask the company to give you the original and all the copies of the test since you did not get the job. If it refuses, demand that the results are kept strictly confidential.”