Are Your Company's Application and Job Qualification Standards in Compliance?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued additional guidance clarifying its position in a discussion letter about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to job qualification standards.
In its November 2011 informal discussion letter, the EEOC stated:
Even if the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity, the employer may still have to determine whether a particular applicant whose learning disability prevents him from meeting it can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
The EEOC added that the employer may make this determination by taking into consideration the applicant's relevant work history and/or by allowing the applicant to demonstrate an ability to do the job's essential functions during the application process. The Commission noted that if the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation, the employer may not use the high school diploma requirement to exclude the applicant despite the applicant's inability to meet the standard. The Commission, however, stated that an employer is not required to prefer the applicant with a learning disability over other applicants who are better qualified.
As a result of the informal discussion letter, the EEOC received "significant commentary and conjecture about the meaning and scope of the letter." In an effort to clarify the issues in the November 2011 letter, the EEOC issued some guidance in a set of questions and answers (Q&A).
The recent guidance set forth in the Q&A noted that:
The EEOC's Q&A provides helpful clarification of an employer's duties under the ADA and how the ADA applies to a company's job qualification standards. Employers should look at their position requirements and ensure that those requirements are job related and consistent with business necessity. Employers should also keep in mind that if an applicant has a disability, they may have a legal obligation to accommodate the applicant.
If you have any questions or concerns about your business's application and qualification standards or need assistance in revising your ADA policies and procedures, please contact Andrea Lovell at (602) 440-4832, or any other member of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite's Labor and Employment practice group.