Can we ask references about an applicant’s previous use of sick time? We’d like to get a sense of their reliability.
No, you shouldn’t make any inquiries into an applicant’s history of calling in sick. Asking about absences because of illness or injury before extending an offer of employment runs afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it’s likely to elicit information about an applicant’s disability.
Sick leave laws may also come into play. If you’re in a state that requires you to provide sick leave, making adverse employment decisions based on use of protected sick leave use (including deciding not to hire someone) could expose you to liability.
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