By Theresa Minton-Eversole
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Dec. 3, 2007, issued an extensive fact sheet that describes how to apply federal anti-discrimination laws to employer tests and other applicant selection and screening procedures used during the employment process.
“This fact sheet will help employers voluntarily comply with EEOC-enforced statutes, as companies seek lawful and efficient ways to screen large numbers of applicants,” said Commission Chair Naomi C. Earp. “Tests and other selection tools can be an effective means of making employment decisions, as long as they are not used to screen out individuals in a discriminatory way.”
The fact sheet describes common types of employer-administered tests and selection procedures, including cognitive tests, personality tests, medical examinations, credit checks and criminal background checks. It suggests “best practices” for employers to follow when using them. For example, the EEOC says:
- Employers should administer tests and other selection procedures without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age (40 or older) or disability.
- Employers should ensure that employment tests and other selection procedures are validated properly for the positions and purposes for which they are used. The test or selection procedure must be job-related, and its results must be appropriate for the employer’s purpose. While a test vendor’s documentation supporting the validity of a test might be helpful, the employer is still responsible for ensuring that its tests are valid under the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures under Title VII.
- If a selection procedure screens out a protected group, the employer should determine whether there is an equally effective alternative selection procedure that has less adverse impact and, if so, should adopt the alternative procedure. For example, if the selection procedure is a test, the employer should determine whether another test would predict job performance but not exclude the protected group disproportionately.
- To ensure that a test or selection procedure remains predictive of success in a job, employers should keep abreast of changes in job requirements and should update the test specifications or selection procedures accordingly.
- Employers should ensure that tests and selection procedures are not adopted casually by managers who know little about these processes. A test or selection procedure can be an effective management tool, but no test or selection procedure should be implemented without an understanding of its effectiveness and limitations for the organization, its appropriateness for a specific job, and whether it can be administered and scored appropriately.
For more information about experiences and challenges encountered by employers, employees and job seekers in testing, read the testimony from the commission’s meeting on testing.