Requiring a High School diploma violates the Americans with Disabilities Act? EEOC raises red flags.
Is a High School diploma a requirement for a job with your company?
Could that requirement be discriminatory?
What if an applicant has a disability that prevented him or her from earning their HS diploma but can still perform the duties of the job?
This article will carefully examine the spirit and wording of the EEOC’s November 2011 informal discussion letter and its February 2012 explanation of that letter regarding employer requirements of a High School diploma for job applicants.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently posted a new interpretation of federal civil law regarding employment. The interpretation clarified that employers may require job applicants to have a high school diploma. The EEOC specifically addressed employer goals of avoiding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act when screening job applicants with learning disabilities through the application process.
On February 17, 2012, the EEOC stated that employers may require potential employees to have a high school diploma despite concerns that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may mandate the opposite. The EEOC’s explanation comes on the heels of its informal discussion letter written in November of 2011. This letter mandated that employers requesting a high school diploma must determine whether an applicant can perform the job’s essential functions before using the diploma requirement to reject the applicant. The discussion came in response to an inquiry about applicants with learning disabilities.
Since the EEOC’s letter lacks the authority of law a controversy has arisen surrounding the document. Combined, the letter and explanation indicate that when an employer requires that a potential employee have a high school diploma, the employer must take additional steps to make that determination. Specifically, the employer must consider the applicant’s relevant work history. The employer must also provide the applicant to demonstrate their ability to do the job’s essential functions during the application process.
As was the case when the EEOC announced its E-RACE initiative, Pre-employ.com recommends that employers scrutinize their hiring practices. Think of eliminating requirements that appear to unfairly discriminate against applicants with learning disabilities. Provide a space for the applicant to describe their relevant work history on a job application. Find a way to assess the ability of an applicant to perform the essential functions of the job during the application process.
The EEOC’s explanation does not mean that employers are required to hire or prefer applicants who say that they have learning disabilities which, according to their state’s education regulations, prevented them from earning a high school diploma. The explanation further does not require employers to hire applicants who chose not to get a high school diploma
Employers’ Bottom Line:
The EEOC’s explanation allows an employer to continue requiring that an applicant have a high school diploma to get hired. Yet the explanation requires that employers
alter their application and application procedures to allow applicants with learning disabilities to be assessed as to whether they can perform the essential functions of the job.
Make Sure Your Hiring Practices Are Compliant
Pre-employ.com has created a free guide, 5 Tips for Safe Hiring Practices specifically for employers. The downloadable guide contains up-to-date advice and critical information that you need to reform your hiring practices so that they are in compliance with current federal employment law.
Would you like to check whether your existent hiring practices are in compliance with the federal code and the EEOC’s guidelines? Pre-employ.com offers a free analysis of your hiring practices. We will review how your job application, credit screening process, I-9 compliance check, skills assessment tests and more. Then we’ll discuss our findings and talk about how to make your hiring practices compliant.