U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Questions about marital status and number and ages of children are frequently used to discriminate against women and may violate Title VII if used to deny or limit employment opportunities.
It is clearly discriminatory to ask such questions only of women and not men (or vice-versa). Even if asked of both men and women, such questions may be seen as evidence of intent to discriminate against, for example, women with children.
Generally, employers should not use non job-related questions involving marital status, number and/or ages of children or dependents, or names of spouses or children of the applicant. Such inquiries may be asked after an employment offer has been made and accepted if needed for insurance or other legitimate business purposes.
The following pre-employment inquiries may be regarded as evidence of intent to discriminate when asked in the pre-employment context: