High-School Diploma Requirement May Violate ADA

Wow! The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has added yet another wrinkle to the hiring process and has taken us that much further away from “the way it used to be.”

In this informal letter, issued Nov. 17, the EEOC has warned that requiring a high-school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because the requirement could effectively screen out anyone unable to graduate because of a learning disability.

“Under the ADA,” the letter states, “a qualification standard, test, or other selection criterion, such as a high-school diploma requirement, that screens out an individual or a class of individuals on the basis of a disability must be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.

“A qualification standard,” it says, “is job-related and consistent with business necessity if it accurately measures the ability to perform the job’s essential functions (i.e. its fundamental duties). Even where a challenged qualification standard, test, or other selection criterion is job-related and consistent with business necessity, if it screens out an individual on the basis of disability, an employer must also demonstrate that the standard or criterion cannot be met, and the job cannot be performed, with a reasonable accommodation.”

This legal alert from Ballard Spahr points out that “the informal letter, although not an official opinion, demonstrates that the hiring process can present a minefield of obstacles for employers.”

No kidding. I can only imagine what the job applications I filled out “back in the day” would look like if all discriminatory “mines” were ommitted. Name, address and Social Security number perhaps?

At least this would cut down on all the frantic phone calls to parents from teens and 20-somethings sitting in HR offices: “Hey, what month and year did I graduate high school again???” Oh, you didn’t get those? I did.

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