The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC)’s latest advisory may require employers to adjust their candidate screening criteria and processes, to make sure they jive with the current tone and direction of the EEOC. Although they’re calling their latest advisory an “informal discussion letter,” the EEOC warned employers that requiring candidates to have a high school diploma could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Essentially, employers could be in trouble if they screen out an individual who is unable to graduate from high school because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of disability. Of course, employers can still require a diploma if the education is essential to performing the job duties, but even then, employers will have to consider a candidate’s request for a reasonable accommodation and make sure they don’t summarily screen-out disabled applicants during the evaluation process, which might be easier said than done. According to The Washington Times, some corporate counsels are advising clients to adjust the way they approach the hiring process.
And there’s talk of banning the conviction check box on applications so employers can’t dismiss applicants without giving them a chance to tell their story. Over two dozen cities and six states have adopted “ban the box” policies and other model hiring reforms to reduce employment barriers for people with records. Pepsi and Integrity Staffing Solutions, which handles hiring for Amazon.com, recently settled lawsuits for refusing to consider applicants with criminal records without considering the age or nature of their offense.
It’s safe to say that employers need to review their practices and stay on their toes because the EEOC received a record 99,947 workplace-discrimination complaints in fiscal year 2011 which was a slight increase over 2010.