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Is it legal for an employer to ask if you receive food stamps?

Philadelphia, PA |

I just applied online for a part-time job with Michael's Crafts. At the end, the application would not let me submit it unless I answered questions for some federal tax credit (which I don't want in the first place). It asked if I receive welfare or food stamps and I checked "unsure" because I didn't feel it was any of their business. I do receive food stamps and do not want employers to know this. I want to know if this is even legal for them to ask. At the signature page, it said that I would be guilty of "perjury" if I didn't tell the truth. I couldn't go back to change my answer, so what kind of "trouble" would I be in if hired?

The application also required my age, and I thought that this was also illegal to ask.

Thank you

Attorney Answers 1


Asking questions like that can be dangerous for an employer. If they are making decisions based on such questions, it's likely that the hiring practice would have a disparate impact on certain racial groups. However, some states do have programs that offer tax credits to employers (not you) for hiring new workers in low income groups. So it may actually be to your advantage to disclose your status to potential employers, as they might be eligible for tax credits for hiring you and therefore more likely to offer you work.

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Thank you, that is what the tax credit said, now that I think about it, that it would be for them, not me.

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