Compliance Issue Analysis: Take Care When Defining Educational Job Requirements
Learn about risks associated with broad educational job requirements, such as requiring a high school diploma for all positions within an organization.
Are there any risks or issues associated with broad educational job requirements, such as requiring a high school diploma for all positions within an organization?
Many employers may be inclined to adopt the traditional approach of requiring a high school diploma or some other minimum educational qualification as a standard requirement for all positions within their organizations. Such educational requirements are often included in the job description for all positions—whether it is for custodial staff or for an executive employee. However, companies would be well-advised to revisit these broad educational requirements because such requirements could create legal and regulatory risks for an employer if they are not tailored to the specific duties of a particular position.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken the position that a high school diploma requirement is discriminatory under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if it has a disparate impact on a protected group and is not job related and consistent with business necessity.
The EEOC has also taken the position that if a high school diploma requirement "screens out" an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the employer "may not apply the standard unless it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity."3
Thus, in order to avoid discrimination claims, employers should review the educational requirements for each of the various positions within their organization and ensure that any minimum requirement is related to the specific duties and essential functions of a particular position. Download this document to learn more.
1 Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 431 (1971).
2 ADA & Title VII: High School Diploma Requirement and Disparate Impact, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (June 11, 2012), https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/foia/letters/2012/ada_title_vii_diploma_disparate_impact.html.
3 ADA: Qualification Standards; Disparate Impact, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Nov. 17, 2011), https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/foia/letters/2011/ada_qualification_standards.html.