Back in November, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a letter suggesting that an employer that requires a high school diploma could be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, the EEOC has issued more info on the policy.
That original letter noted that the education requirement could violate the ADA if the requirement screens out applicants who can’t obtain a diploma because of a learning disability. The exception might be if the employer can show the requirement is job related and a business necessity.
Now, after a flood of inquiries from employers, the EEOC has issued a clarification of the letter. Among the clarifications:
- Nothing in the discussion letter prohibits an employer from adopting a requirement that a job applicant have a high school diploma; however, the employer may have to allow an individual who says that a disability prevented him or her from obtaining a high school diploma to demonstrate qualification for the job in some other way
- The ADA only protects someone whose disability makes it impossible for him or her to get a diploma. It would not protect someone who simply decided not to get a high school diploma, and
- The employer is not required to hire an individual with a disability, but may still choose the most qualified applicant. The employer does not have to give preference to an applicant with a disability over someone who can perform the job better.