Asking a woman whether she has children or intends to have them in the future is appropriate if the questioner is planning to propose marriage. But if the interrogation is taking place in the context of a job interview, those questions should be off limits.
In 22 states they are, and job applicants cannot be asked if they are married or whether they have children. That's not the law in Pennsylvania.
Discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, ancestry or national origin is illegal, and potential employers aren't supposed to ask related questions during job interviews. Likewise, employers can't discriminate against a female employee for being pregnant.
But there are interviewers who still ask job applicants about their marital status and their plans to have children, and some applicants feel bound to answer any questions they are asked.
A Pennsylvania woman, Kiki Peppard of Monroe County, has been trying for 15 years to convince legislators to prohibit employers from asking, a quest she took up after failing to land a job as a single mother in 1994 despite 19 interviews. Senate Minority Whip Jane Orie, a Republican from McCandless, repeatedly has introduced bills to make such questions illegal and she has done so again this term with Senate Bill 280. So far, the measure has not gained any traction toward passage.
Discrimination in hiring is against the law. Pennsylvania legislators should force employers to abide by that spirit by enacting a law that tells employers in no uncertain terms that, in job interviews, some questions should not be allowed.