I recently interviewed for a manager position at a software company. One of the interviewers asked if I was married, and he immediately added, jovially, "I really shouldn't be asking that."

I am 40 and not married. I responded truthfully and said I am not married. The following week, I was told I did not get the management job. Of course, the reason will never be revealed to me.

Is it legal for interviewers to ask if I'm married?

Should I preemptively do something to avoid this question, like wear a wedding band? How much are those, anyways? Or should I say something like "Great weather, my wife and kids really loved going to Yosemite last week"; I figure that if it's not a direct reply to a question, I'm not lying, just thinking out loud.

  • See this question. If it does not answer your question (though it looks exactly identical) feel free to edit your question to clarify how it's different. Thanks! – enderland Nov 24 '14 at 18:44
  • legal questions have no hope of getting an accurate answer without a location. The use of Yosemite does imply United States, but you should add a tag with your country. – mhoran_psprep Nov 24 '14 at 18:44
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    @stackoverflowuser2010 - actually it is effectively the same question. The question is inappropriate, and you are asking how to respond. Is it Illegal? No (Free speech), but it could open up the company to discrimination complaints. Asking the question by itself is not likely to be enoug to find that but if it is part of a pattern of other behavior... – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 24 '14 at 18:58
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    @stackoverflowuser2010 the part that's not off-topic is a duplicate (handling inappropriate questions). "Is it legal?" is off-topic here; that's highly dependent on locale and anyway we are not lawyers. Also, remember that we expect comments (and posts) here to maintain a professional tone. – Monica Cellio Nov 24 '14 at 19:02
  • The idea that you should deceive a prospective employer in this regard is absurd. Suppose you get the job, and after a month he asks you if you family would like to come to the company picnic? Or if you are asked if you need suggestions on local school districts? Or one of the many other friendly questions that one parent might ask another? I'm a husband and father, and I can work well with married folks, divorcees, life-long singles, and many other categories. But I view any man with suspicion if he implies that he is married and I later discover that this isn't the case. – Eric Wilson Nov 24 '14 at 22:10