The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released a set of questions and answers on its website clarifying a November informal discussion letter that suggested high school diploma requirements may violate job discrimination regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The EEOC specified that federal law, in most circumstances, does not bar employers from using job applications that require a high school diploma. However, for people with certain disabilities that prevented them from obtaining a high school diploma, the requirements are inherently discriminatory and therefore violate the ADA.
For these particular applicants, employers must provide them another opportunity to show they qualify for the job, such as through other work experience or by allowing them to demonstrate “performance of the job’s essential functions.”
As the EEOC sees it, the requirement is not a new interpretation of the ADA. Instead, it is consistent with previous civil rights laws that prevented employers from imposing application requirements that are unrelated to the applicant’s ability to perform the job.
“Under the ADA, 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….If the individual can perform the job’s essential functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation, despite the inability to meet the standard, the employer may not use the high school diploma requirement to exclude the applicant,” the EEOC stated in the letter.