EEOC Questions is that Diploma Really Necessary?

A recent EEOC discussion letter opines that adopting education requirements for jobs may screen out certain applicants, and that employers shouldn’t apply the standard unless they can show that the requirement is job-related. “The EEOC has taken a particular interest in hiring criteria, from credit checks to arrest and criminal records to education requirements,” said David James, shareholder and chair of the labor and employment practice group of the Nilan Johnson Lewis law firm. “The EEOC views such screening tools as having a disparate impact on minority applicants and other protected classes, and hopes to reduce or even eliminate the use of these criteria.” The letter states employers shouldn’t list a high-school diploma as a job requirement if the job functions could be performed by individuals without one. Removal of such requirements may aid individuals without high-school diplomas, but it may have the opposite effect on other would-be employees who are already struggling to find jobs. While including education requirements in job listings isn’t likely to become illegal, HR professionals may want to rethink asking about candidates’ educational backgrounds.

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