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Requiring a Diploma May Be Discriminatory

by
John Zappe
Dec 8, 2011, 5:54 am ET

Requiring a high school diploma as a condition of employment for some jobs could land you in trouble with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

An “informal discussion letter” just posted to the EEOC’s website says that under certain circumstances, requiring a diploma may run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the requirement screens out persons unable to earn a diploma because of a bonafide disability, the employer has to justify the requirement as job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Doing that for some jobs isn’t going to be easy. Employers almost as a matter of routine include at least a high school degree requirement in every job posting, including for janitors and cleaners. The U.S. Labor Department, however, says, “Most building cleaning workers, except supervisors, do not need any formal education and mainly learn their skills on the job or in informal training sessions sponsored by their employers.”

Informal discussion letters aren’t policy. That’s up to the Commission members. However, employment lawyers see the letter as signaling the possibility that the EEOC may be looking to step up its enforcement of other provisions.

Says Proskauer Rose attorney Nigel F. Telman, “I could see them potentially … saying at some point” that a high school diploma requirement “may have a disparate impact on a particular class of people.”

For instance, 87.1 percent of the U.S. population older than 24 has a high school degree. However, only 62.9 percent of Hispanics do. So requiring a degree does have a disparate impact nationally. That alone isn’t illegal. But it does mean you’ll have to justify the requirement as both job related and consistent with business necessity.

If it’s the ADA that’s involved, you’d also have to also establish that with or without an accommodation the disabled person is unable to do the job.

The EEOC letter spells out the process:

…if an employer adopts a high school diploma requirement for a job, and that requirement “screens out” an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of “disability,” the employer may not apply the standard unless it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity. The employer will not be able to make this showing, for example, if the functions in question can easily be performed by someone who does not have a diploma.

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. It may do so, for example, by considering relevant work history and/or by allowing the applicant to demonstrate an ability to do the job’s essential functions during the application process. 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.

Cautions a blog post from the employment firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz:

As a practical matter, employers should now be prepared for the EEOC to second guess whether their educational requirements are job related and consistent with what the EEOC believes to be a business necessity.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Joseph Murphy

    This is a great example of what is known as proxy measure criteria. Employers assume the easy to measure/evaluate HS diploma (HSD) or GED provides the evidence of basic job-relevant skill.   HSD or GED is used as a substitute or proxy measure.

    Most recruiters or business professionals have encountered the meaningful and observable differences between two candidates, both with ‘similar’ academic qualifications.

    In validation analysis with our clients, we regularly find no relationship between academic qualifications and job performance.  The reason is that the existence of the diploma or degree does not actually evaluate or measure the existence of the knowledge, skills, abilities or work style traits that are job relevant.

    A good degree of assumptions go into using HSD, GED or even college degree as screening criteria. And, you know what happens when you ass u me….There are much better ways to determine job-fit than educational level.  The EEOC is correct in asserting that discrimination may occur with this approach to screening.

  2. UTILITY DOCUMENT » Requiring a Diploma May Be Discriminatory » UTILITY DOCUMENT

    [...] 1 comment [...]

  3. Krista Bradford

    John,

    You’ve made some terrific points. One does need to pause to think of the implications of job requirements and whether they result in unintended consequences that are discriminatory. Our more college-educated brethren may forget that diverse populations do not necessarily have equal access to quality education. As long as we fund public education with revenues from local property taxes, the well-heeled children of well-to-do parents in elite communities will have access to the latest technology tools and best teachers. Children living in poorer communities with less lucrative property tax bases are short-changed.

    Class distinctions in America, while less obvious, are in many ways as rigid as the mothership from whence we came (England). We’d like to believe everyone has an equal shot. We’d like to believe expecting a high school diploma seems a reasonable thing to do, after all it is “just a high school diploma”. However, as Bill Gates has underscored in his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, only seven in 10 of American students actually finish high school. When it comes to Hispanic, African-American and Native American students, that statistic drops to six in 10.

    I noticed a number of refinements in EEOC policy guidance, available for review on the EEOC website. It’s worth a check. Also, you can call the EEOC for further details and explanation. It’s something we do as a matter of course in our diversity practice.

    Equal employment is a goal upon which the vast majority of us do agree. But ensuring equal employment takes a real commitment. It starts with being aware of unintended consequences of what seem like the most banal decisions, such as making a high school diploma a job requirement.

  4. Martin Snyder

    Bravo Krista for using the C word.

    Classism is a big issue in our society and getting worse, not better. Once, America was known for fluid class boundries, and it empowered us. Now we are ossified, and it’s hurting us…..

  5. Requiring a Diploma May Be Discriminatory | | UTILITY DOCUMENTSUTILITY DOCUMENTS

    [...] 4 comments [...]

  6. Brian Kevin Johnston

    Interesting article…. @Krista Intelligent comment (like yesterdays blog post)…Placism is not only in the MIND of employers, it is also in the MIND of applicants…

  7. Krista Bradford

    Martin,

    Delighted the C-word resonates. It’s a topic that’s fascinated me for some time. I believe a great deal of discrimination out there that we deal with is bound up in issues of class. I recommend an eye-opening book Class: A Guide through the American Status System by Paul Fussell that I keep tucked away for reference on my office bookshelf . . .
    Brian,
    You make a valid point: to consider all stakeholders in the process. It suggests that we all need to be more mindful, which reminds me I need to get to my yoga class . . .

  8. Mitch Heinemann

    Oh come on! I guess if any of us recruited janitors and cleaners this might be something important to read here. Are any of you recruiting those folks for your clients? (Okay, I can see some importance to keeping track of a governmental entity pushing the current administration’s social and economic leanings)

    Anyway…On the “class” thing as it relates to the EEOC trying to force employers to hire people without even the barest of education is unmitigated nonsense. Nothing like a solution looking for a problem that does not exist.

  9. Martin Snyder

    Krista, “Class” and “The Preppy Handbook” have been cultural touchstones for me – Mr. Fussell’s “The Great War and Modern Memory” is also a stellar book- I never realized before reading it that the war in Flanders was only a few hour’s travel time from home for many of the English – they read the papers the same day and got all kinds of stuff from home (before they were blown up, of course).

    Mitch, I can assure you that classism is a big problem, which most certainly DOES exist, as does rampant credentialism. It’s nice (I’m sure) to be in a world where you dont have to see it, but then again, there are lots of ugly things to not look at….

  10. Alan Roe

    In Canada this has been tested in a courts (sorry I can’t cite the precedent) the court found that the educational requirement was discriminatory but if it is consistently applied throughout the organization it was legal. It is not role of the courts to comment on how smart or dumb specific business activities carried out as long as they are not discriminatory in application. I.E. the wearing of white uniforms in dirty environments or hiring someone who cannot communicate in the language being spoken within the day to day working environment.

  11. Nick Fishman

    For the first time in quite a while, I’m not necessarily bristling at the EEOC’s guidance. One thing that I believe will play into this equation is both the cost and value of education, particularly an undergraduate degree. With the cost of a 4 year degree spiraling out of control, bright kids that would ordinarily go to college are thinking twice. Why? Because the truth is that an undergraduate degree rarely prepares you for the working world. It’s usually just a rite of passage. Real world hands-on experience carries the day. Plus, just look at the employment prospects of recent college graduates.

    In my prior career, I used to argue against hiring those without college careers, not because I thought the education would make them better employees, but because it demonstrated a commitment to follow through. I still think there is value, I just think that a lack of degree is no longer comparable to someone that wasn’t smart enough.

  12. Keith Halperin

    @ Everybody: Of course we’re a class-based society, though we’re not supposed to admit it. (I really like Fussell’s book, too.) It’s also become more stratified, with the top getting more and more (http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105), and harder for those lower down to move up (http://www.economist.com/node/15908469). Thank you, Koch Brothers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_activities_of_the_Koch_family)!

    Keith

  13. Martin Snyder

    @Nick, I love to see evolving attitudes, esp. in your business, which is now the ultimate gatekeeper for a great number of people….

    @ Keith, I have been banging that drum for years- the Kochs are just taking advantage of the landscape. High marginal tax rates, highly subsidized secondary education, and a military draft would do a lot to restore the nation, but it ain’t gonna happen unless the elite stranglehold on our many broken institutions is somehow thwarted, and it’s not looking too likely….

  14. Nick Fishman

    @Martin I appreciate the props, but remember, we’re just the information reporters. What a client does with that information is up to them. My comment was less an opinion for how our industry should report information and more of a mindset that I think employers will have to adapt.

    Also, it’s important to note that we will just verify an applicant’s claim of academic experience. If we find a discrepancy, they won’t necessarily get dinged because the fail to meet qualifications. It would be because the falsified an application.

  15. Keith Halperin

    @ Martin: Thanks. A found a new quote I enjoy:
    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

    Frederick Douglass

    ……………….

    Keith “Fight the Power!” Halperin

  16. Martin Snyder

    All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

    -Victor Hugo

    Nick, I’m thinking more of where background check is going-sooner or later it will regularly encompass social media and business records, all with FCRA waivers of course, as firms compete to build more and more complete pictures of potential employees…. we are still at the dawn of that age…

  17. Kim Samuel

    This is a classic case of placing blame on employers instead of holding people accountable for their own education. To say that people don’t have access to a high school diploma in this country is ridiculous. The issue is with individuals and their families not valuing education and then expecting doors to open for them. To tell an employer that they should not require a basic HS diploma is government intrusion at its best. What’s next – I can’t require an engineering degree for my engineering positions because everyone doesn’t have access to getting that degree? The emphasis should be back where it belongs which is placing emphasis on the importance of education.

  18. Mitch Heinemann

    Spot on Kim.

  19. Requiring a Diploma May Be Discriminatory - DOCUMENTS – DOCUMENTS

    [...] Cautions a blog post from a practice organisation of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell Berkowitz: As a unsentimental matter, employers should now be prepared for a EEOC to second theory either their educationalRead More here [...]

  20. Keith Halperin

    @ Martin: Also true…

    “You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, and not fool all of the people all of the time, but you can fool enough of the people enough of the time to get and stay very powerful for quite some time.”

    -Keith Halperin (“sampled” from Abrahamam Lincoln)

    @ Kim, Mitch- most familes value education, the problem is fewer and fewer of them can afford it. YOu may do everything you possibly can to give your kids the best opportunity they can have, but paying $250k for an Ivy League education or even $80-$100k for a public university education may be beyond what they can do…

    One of the few things the US still economically leads the world in is our university system, and we are simultaneously cutting back on its resources while making it increasingly out of reach for average Americans…I’ve already suggested that ordinary young college grads consider emigration to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or northern European countries with stronger conomies than ours (like Germany). I’m now thinking college-inclined high school grads should consider the possibility of getting overseas educations…I *think there are a number of decent Canadian universities (at least) which are more affordable than many American public universities.

    Hapy Friday,

    -kh

    *Correct me if I’m wrong.

  21. Kim Samuel

    Keith, my comments were directed at HS, not college.
    I have seen proof over and over that how families value education has a direct impact on individuals’ success in HS and college. Many just don’t care.

    I was a single mom for many years and could not afford to save much for my 3 daughters’ college educations. My oldest has already graduated from college, my middle is a junior and my youngest a freshman at state universities. I help them out where I can, but most of their expenses are paid with student loans. Where there is a will, there is a way. Even kids who have their education paid for don ‘t always graduate. It will always come down to the individual, not society, when it comes to individual success.

  22. Keith Halperin

    @ Kim: Thanks. Yes, some parents don’t care. I’d like to think that most do care. Also IMHO, individual success does not measure the success of the society as a whole- we’re probably close to Number One economically developed countries in the world for how we treat the top *1%(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient), but not how we treat the other 99%. I like what the late leader of the New Democratic Party Jack Layton said about what Canada should be, but I’ll change it to America:
    “An (America) where families come first, and no one is left behind.”

    He also said (and I’m again changing “Canada” to “America” for the sake of my point):
    “(America) is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world.”… or we can continue down the path we are headed: toward becoming a corrupt, money-driven oligarchy where instead of “families come first, and no one is left behind”, we have “I’ve got mine- now *you get yours, and the devil take the hindmost.”

    Happy Friday,

    Keith

    *Until I want yours, too.

  23. Requiring a High School Diploma May Be Discriminatory | LoriCamper.Com Blog

    [...] a high school degree requirement in every job posting, including for janitors and cleaners. The U.S. Labor Department, however, says, “Most building cleaning workers, except supervisors, do not need any formal education and mainly [...]

  24. Brian Qualters

    Keith-
    Let’s get the facts straight befor eyou get all flowery with how much you care about EVERYONE as you liberals love to claim but the facts prove otherwise. If you want “An (America) where families come first, and no one is left behind.” great! Then are you willing to put your whole family to work, 12 hours a day doing lumberjack, oil rigging, sewer cleaning jobs to pay for my family that will sit on our collective butts while you work yours off? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Shut up..no really ..shut up. You lie! Your arguments are false and weak and come straight out of communist China. Guess what Keith, that’s a country that follows the “principles” you espouse and hey guess what – it works for the overwhelming majority of the people their – in that the majority of the over 1 billion people their live in equality – oh but guess what – that “equality” is equal squalor! Until you libs got hold of this country in the early 20th century this country was exactly what you wrote:a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity – which your progressive socialist party has steadily eaten away at with laws that limit what you can achieve. You DO NOT believe in people and their capabilities – as evidenced by your view that big government is the answer by doing for them what they should be doing for themselves. You project that the conservative view (where by the way we believe in THE INDIVIDUAL not GOVERNMENT!) supposedly doesn’t care if we don’t take your point of view because OBVIOUSLY if we’re not “fighting for the little guy” we don’t care about them when in reality conservatives are the only ones who actually do care – who want to see EVERY INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVE! To grasp every opportunity presented to them and make the best of it. We don’t however believe that handouts are opportunities – handouts are spirit crushers – you know and I know it – but you put it forth as a good thing whereas we KNOW IT”S BAD! If you are so for this action where liberals are once again saying “Hey you’re alive and you’re breathing so you’re worth just as much as the next guy regardless of what you accomplish” so YOU DESERVE A JOB, then why don’t YOU give this dropouts and handicapped people a job yourself? Spend all day monitoring them, making sure they do everything right, watching them like a baby because you know as well as everyone else that if something goes wrong or they do something ont he job that gets them injured because ..oh well we can’t expect these uneducated buffoons to know you can’t. oh let’s say.. mix cleaning chemical A with cleaning chemical B and expect to be able to continue breathing in the toxic mixture they just created on that simple cleaning job cited in the article – so of course it’s your fault and let’s just get the ACLU to sue your dumb butt for letting this moron use chemicals – but wait a secopnd – you have a cleaning company and how else are you gonna clean toilets? Go away Keith!!!

  25. Martin Snyder

    Mr. Qualters, perhaps you should take your meds and maybe have a nice nap. You will feel better when you wake up.

  26. Keith Halperin

    @ Brian Q: I’m glad you showed us the articulate presentation of American Conservatism at its best. As I said before: individual success does not measure the success of the society as a whole- we’re probably close to Number One economically developed countries in the world for how we treat the top *1%(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient), but not how we treat the other 99%.

    I’m rather surprised you don’t like China more, Brian. It has an extremely pro-business economic climate, and doesn’t allow nasty things like labor unions or strong environmental regulations to interfere with business.

    I bet you wouldn’t like the economic climate of Germany either. It is the worlds’ second largest exporter, has a considerably lower unemployment rate than the USA, a lot more benefits (http://community.ere.net/blogs/keithhalperin/2011/12/were-you-born-on-the-wrong-continent-americas-misguided-culture-of-overwork/)and economic democracy (*http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/hows_europe_doing/archives/individual/2010_11/026625.php) than we do here- the economic democracy was set up by a conservative government after WWII…

    BTW, I’m on the board of a non-profit organization designed to train disabled individuals in the Bay Area how to become SQA Engineers and support themselves- we met this last Friday. Besides ranting at me, what’ve you done lately?

    Cheers,

    Keith

  27. Brian Qualters

    Keith -
    How many ways can I say “typical liberal”? You’re on the board of a non-profit? Why can’t you get involved in something to make a profit? Do you see it as evil or as you imply – does working for a non-profit make you a better person than me? How many SQA Engineers have you actually trained and gotten good jobs? And how many of those people get to take credit for their own work if they did get a good job or do you get to take the credit because you so regally provided the training? Funny thing is – and this is a weird coincidence – I’m an instructor to train people to use QA Autoamtion technology myself – but evil me – I do it for a profit!
    Do you seriously want to go into your arguments about China? You do realize that everything the Dems are doing right now to destroy capitalism is exactly what is even giving the Chinese a taste of the modern era – raising the standard of living of many of those who the regime in China allows to take advantage of its benefits to a level they wouldn’t have dreamed of 15 years ago! Problem is that the CHINESE REGIME is in total control – and your party is pointing us down the same road where the winners in this society are NOT the results of their own efforts but the results of the government picking winners and losers. And before you off about crony-capitalism here in America which is a duh response – you have NO WAY of denying that people do in fact have the opportunity to pull THEMSELVES up by their own boostraps if THEY DECIDE to do so. Much as your weak argument about education being only for the rich 1% and pointing to the expensive Ivy League schools argument – go do some research about those people that have made something of themselves and turned themselves into millionaires (not inherited it as you libs like to claim all rich people have done) – those people overwhelmingly DID NOT go to the IVY LEAGUE schools and did it DESPITE big government interfering and complicating every step they took to do so. And, oh yeah, Germany? Seriously – you bring up the country with the only leader with the stones in Europe to come out and say “This entitlement BS has got to stop – they can’t afford it!’ hey, you know what – the Greeks loved their society too – retiring at 50 – getting lavish government jobs where they did nothing and sucked off the business community and taxed people like crazy and look at where they are now. Reality is the life bread of conservatism. Fantasy is the same to Liberals!

  28. Brian Qualters

    Here’s the point Keith – I would pick living in a society where I had to rely on me and my abilities 100 times out of 100 times over living in a society where my success was determined literally by the government! You want to send us down that path – I don’t! Take all the money away from those evil 1% you hate so much and big friggin woop te do – you don’t even half half a trillion – spread that out evenly by the government (yeah right like the government EVER does anything fairly!) to every citizen in this country and you have people getting by for one to two years tops on money they did not earn and when the money is gone – guess what – those same people who were poor before and needy – will be poor and needy again – but teir won’t be any rich people to steal any more money from! Remember – the bad thing about socialism Thatcher once put so succinctly – IS THAT EVENTUALLY YOU RUN OUT OF OTHER PEOPLES MONEY!!!

  29. EEOC Says Requiring A Diploma May Be Discriminatory | EmployeeScreenIQ Blog

    [...] John Zappe wrote a great post on this topic.  See excerpt [...]

  30. Martin Snyder

    Keith, I have a saying that everyone who knows me has heard many times (because I am already a doddering fool, but that’s for another post) “IGNORE the words, and pay attention to the FEELINGS”.

    Words are imperfect means of expressing ourselves, and so often they are expressed in a context which cannot be conveyed to another person, but the feelings are real and can actually CREATE those imperfect words.

    The feelings here are clear as day: anger, envy, aggression, impotence, and attention-seeking, all of which sadly tend to create a negative feedback loop. Sometimes with these cases there are positives- good energy, longing for a better world, a seeking for justice, etc.

    However, as with anyone way out of balance (e.g. too little rationality v.too much feeling) it’s just tiring and pointless to engage unless you really care about the person. Too much rationality is also bad juju, but in a totally different way.

    Here is hoping Mr. Qualters finds some balance, because the FEELINGS are right there on the page…..

  31. Brian Qualters

    I love how you guys try to put your feelings on every one else. Read into what I wrote whatever you want and try to belittle the messenger as much as you want – right out of the Democrat playbook – I believe from page one – geez – maybe read a bit further so you can become a better comrade – regardless, what you FEAR is the TRUTH – and THAT is what is plainly on the page. What I FEAR is people like you deceptively taking away people’s rights!

  32. Martin Snyder

    mmmmmmmmmm

  33. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Martin. I think there’s a fool here in this discussion, but I don’t believe it’s either you or me….
    Speaking of which: I don’t think Martin or I need to belittle you, Brian… you’re doing a great job of that yourself.

    Keith “This is Too Easy” Halperin

  34. Brian Qualters

    Sticks and stones – classic liberal response. Ignore the facts and call names. Here’s the thing guys – conservatives are no longer falling for it. Call us allt he names you want – we don’t care. The TRUTH is the TRUTH and it can’t be ignored regardless of how much you may wish it goes away. Speaking of which- where’s the facts on your non-profit? What’s the name of it? How many people has it actually trained and placed? How much money has it taken from the government in terms of grants? Don’t have the facts available? That’s okay – just provide the name – I’ll get the facts. Or was that just a blow-hard statement to make yourself look like a “caring” liberal?

  35. Brian Qualters

    Interesting..no details from the great non-profit board member. I’ll wait while you fabricate some….

  36. Keith Halperin

    Brian, I don’t appreciate you publicly calling me a liar- it again demonstrates the type of character you are to all 74,283 current ERE members. Also, I wonder what type of instructor you might be- perhaps a bit impatient or irritable with your students, or does that just apply to those who aren’t paying you to be civil?

    Keith
    ………………………

    http://specialistsguild.org/
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    The Specialists Guild is a social enterprise set up to provide opportunities and support for people on the Autism Spectrum to contribute to society at a level in line with their intelligence and abilities. Our goal is to help these individuals earn a living doing meaningful and fulfilling work. Initially, The Specialists Guild will provide software testing training to individuals on the Autism Spectrum in the San Francisco Bay Area with the goal of successfully transitioning them into open market positions.

    The Specialists Guild is supported in part by offering software and product testing services to technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our testers fundamentally enjoy testing – highly intelligent with strong technical skills, their precision and focus is exactly what is required to do this work well. While each person is an individual and different, based on the experience of two other successful ventures – Specialisterne in Denmark and Aspiritech in Chicago – many people with ASD possess the intelligence, focus, diligence and perseverance that makes them excel at finding software and product problems.

    The goal of The Specialists Guild is to train people on the Autism Spectrum to be software testers, and give them experience and success in a supportive environment. We train our clients to work with our corporate customers, and help our customers to work with our clients. We are confident that our customers will be so impressed by the talents of our clients that they will hire them from us. We work with clients to build their knowledge and confidence to fit into typical work environments. It is our ultimate goal to place clients with our customers, so they get off the Social Assistance thread-mill and find fulfilling work.

  37. Brian Qualters

    Keith – I have to say I love how you and Martin can attack and call me names and attack my personality on this public forum but the second I question your make-up you get all flustered. What’s good for the goose…you and he had no data to go on but your inferences from what I wrote about my personal makeup but you had no problem callign me names and questioning my makeup – as you once again did with this last post. Ever hear the term HYPOCRITE? If you can’t take it … don’t shovel it out!

  38. Brian Qualters

    Hmmm…
    Posting from your website you referenced:
    People with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism are invited to apply for a 3-4 month training program for Software Testing. Candidates need to have facility with being online, email, texting, web searches and computers in general. Chosen candidates will need to complete an online skills test and in person interview to be eligible for the program.

    Seems to me you’re discriminating against those people who are maybe oh I don’t know “uneducated” when it comes to computers? Seems like you support my position that companies – for profit or not should have the right to set their own standards for they “hire” and who they train. What seems even worse is that the salary is listed as “None”. While I applaud the stated goals and have to point out that your business IS specifically set up to deal with people who have disabilities, my issue with the new “opinion” tht may become a law is that it forces those who may not ahve the ability or money to train people who don’t meet THEIR DEFINED eligibility criteria – why is that so hard to understand? Just find it extremely hypocritical that you are prejudiced against those who aren’t “facile” with being online. Do you not see the hypocrisy? Probably not…

  39. Brian Qualters

    Taking this in a slightly different direction – one that’s on point with issues that this “discrimination policy” brings up – I have to ask those of you in support of it this question: Do you think that, if a business is forced to hire people whom it considers unqualified because of their desire to have a high school educated person, the private business should be able to pay these people a wage lower than standard? Let’s take the example provided in the article – a person is able to prove that he can clean and do a janitorial job – but he requires alot of supervision which adds to labor cost for the business – should the business be able to pay this person say $7.50 for the job that normally gets $10?

  40. Martin Snyder

    No business should be forced to hire anyone, and I am opposed to identity politics in all manifestations, including affirmative action. However, that opposition is contingent on reasonable equality of public education and hiring opportunity, both of which are extraordinarily expensive and will always be highly resisted, and so unlikely to come to pass in our current political setup….

    We live in a real-world of compromises and unfairness, in-group amity and out-group emnity, and so have to adjust ourselves to practical remedies that will always be far from perfect.

  41. Brian Qualters

    Martin-
    All I have to say in response is that you seem to have fallen for the repeated lies about education being outlandishly expensive or out of reach.
    Public schools in many places are dirt cheap – and if you live in California you know this because you’ve been taxed to a higher extent than anyone else to help pay for the public universities.
    I lived in NY and many of the SUNY schools were dirt cheap – and I grew up in a, lets call it a “lower, lower middle class” household. I did NOT however go to a SUNY school as my area of study (originally Sports Medicine) was best being taught by a small liberal arts college in NC. My wife went to NC State – a public university and had no problem paying for her education either as the rates for “in-state” students are VERY affordable. Did it mean we both had to work while we were in-school to help pay for it? You bet! WHy shouldn’t we have had to?
    Maybe you have the impression that public universities DO NOT provide a quality education? Maybe you went to an Ivy League school and feel that of course only those schools REALLY provide a true education, I don’t know. But you are perpetuating a myth that the media has put forth to help the Democrat line.
    Now…if you feel that people shouldn’t have to work during school, or perhaps prove themselves academically to qualify for grants or scholarships to assist in paying for school, that’s a whole other rabbit hole and I won’t go there.
    Problem is people are being trained to think they are ENTITLED to everything – I’m here to tell you – YOU’re not. I went to same “inner city” schools that everyone claims “you can’t break out of the cycle”, blah. blah blah and I’m doing pretty well for myself. (As did my siblings!)
    If you want to draw lines that group people and claim “unfairness” in the system – why can’t we also talk about them in terms of “achievers” and “non-achievers” or …let’s say “culturally advantaged” and “culturally disadvantaged” and take out race from the entire discussion as those factors are based on your family and people from all races fall into both categories.
    Here’s what I consider the “culturally advantaged”–> Those people who understand that YOU are to do for YOU – that it is YOUR responsibility to get an educaion – learn as much as you can and NOT just enough to get by. Those who have “drive” and a desire to achieve – but here’s the key – through THEIR own hard work – blood, sweat and tears. And not by harming others or stealing from them, etc.
    I know for a fact that this is NOT something that comes from others – it is within – so the excuse of “oh it’s a continuing cycle and the disadvantaged children of those “left behind” blah blah blah, is just that – an excuse – as many of my friends come from families where the parents were/are non-achievers – didn’t instill anything in them – yet they had it inside them to achieve -to break away!
    Let’s begin the discussion with that – unless you want to continue to sit in your Ivory Tower and continue to buy into the mainstream media pscho-babble about how the country no longer offers opportunity and everything is set up for the rich. Do the rich have it easier? Sure – they don’t have to worry about being able to afford an education in most cases. Does that then guarantee that they will achieve? Heck NO! Business is one area that truly weeds out the “non-achievers”! And if they are “lucky enough” to get a position solely due to their “lineage” – great – let those that don’t deserve and aren’t achievers drive their businesses into the ground with their mistakes!

  42. Kim Samuel

    I’m not sure how the conversation got to this point, but the original premise was around high school diplomas, and whether that can or should be a requirement or not for employment. Everyone can have differing opinions on what constitutes affordable higher education, and again, obtaining a college degree, regardless of who foots the bill, still will come down to the individual’s motivation, and not to any other factors. A lot of individuals who have parents footing the full bill still don’t obtain degrees, while those who work their way through college and/or take out student loans manage to get degrees, sometimes multiple.

    My opinion is that the government should stay out of deciding what requirements an employer can ask for when posting a job when it comes to education or experience. I know of fabs where they require a BS to even work on the line. With the availability of obtaining your HS diploma through a GED, on-line, in the classroom, etc, and public schools, there is no excuse other than lack of motivation for someone not to pursue that minimum requirement. In today’s society, there are very few jobs that do not require the minimum abilities to read and do simple math. Society never benefits for pandering to the lowest common denominator, but only by encouraging people to strive to be better.

  43. Brian Qualters

    Kim-
    My fault I guess. Things got side-tracked. You made my point alot more succinctly than I did. I guess I’m sick of reading how unfair this country is and that government is the solution when personal responsibility is the actual answer. I’m sick of the implication that conservative views like this are “uneducated and hateful” when they are actually the opposite. And, I’m not one to stand down and let it lie when that is put forth by people. I truly believe that if YOU want to succeed, YOU can succeed in this country. If others are willing to help you get there – great. BUT, and this is the big BUT, do NOT EXPECT others to help you ESPECIALLY by using the force of law to do so! I know this is not yet a law, but it SCARES the heck out of me that it would even be considered. When you establish the desires of one group of people as a “right” into law and step on the rights of others to do so you are heading down the wrong path. Might as well put laws into effect where midgets should be drafted in the NBA and obese, 6 footers should be jockeys at that point because, hey, the thinking is we alldeserve the same opportunities right?

  44. Kim Samuel

    Brian – agreed. As a staffing director, I want my business to decide who is qualifed and who is not. Trust me, if someone is qualified, my hiring managers don’t care if they are green, old or young, or 4 foot tall, or 7 foot tall – they just need qualified people which is not always easy to find. And by qualified, I mean skilled and motivated. Even for entry level positions, you want someone who shows initiative.

    If the federal government feels that we need to hire people who do not even have the will to get a HS diploma, what’s next, and where will these directives end? That is what I really object to.

  45. Keith Halperin

    @ Kim: I think it would be better if companies required applicants to demonstrate knowledge and actual skills (through meaningful certification, assessment, testing, whatever), as opposed to producing a piece of paper from a particular place. A few generations ago, a HS diploma meant something- now a college diploma doesn’t mean much of anything…Maybe we should study what other economically prosperous countries do that works to get them a strong, well-trained workforce and see what we can adapt to our culture.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  46. Kim Samuel

    You missed my point Keith. I’m not debating social policy here – my point is that my company should determine our requirements and the government should stay out of it. If you want to adapt hiring standards based on what you think is best based on your beliefs, have at it. I just don’t anyone, the government, political parties, social policy, etc, telling me how to run my staffing department. Period. That’s why it’s called free enterprise.

  47. Brian Qualters

    Well said Kim! Sometimes I wonder if Americans understand the meaning of the words freedom and free enterprise!

  48. Keith Halperin

    @ Kim: as long as you aren’t living as a hermit in a cave, and what you do affects others, it IS social policy. Most people live in communities of some sort, and virtually all functional communities have rules of some sort to determine how the members should or shouldn’t act- sometimes these rules are called “laws”. You may believe you have complete unfettered right to determine the rules of how you run your company, but you don’t,and you haven’t since at least 1865, when slavery was outlawed.

    -kh

  49. Jim Sullivan

    @Keith – Slavery was outlawed? Wow you mean that the US Government made a rule that we can’t own others? Suprising:-)

    I think the point of this is HOW FAR do we allow our Congress, Senate, President and Judicial system to take away the basic freedoms the we FEEL we are rightfully accorded per the Constitution.

    I do believe that “the government” has taken things a bit too far in their handling of “disparate impact” since this should be addressed WAY BEFORE anyone should be seeking a job. For instance what is wrong with our educational system and why are we not training our youth.

    Just like most government bodies they try to put a band-aide on a problem instead of looking for the SOLUTION so it does not become a problem in the first place. Remember the furror over the “no unemployed’s will be considered”. Yes it was stupid to advertise it but that is a COMPANY’S personal decision (and yes according to the US Supreme court a company is a person – just look, these “persons” are financing all our elections aren’t they.) So with that thought process/logic shouldn’t a person be able to decide who they want to work with? I know I’m pushing the argument into the realm of insanity but isn’t that what MOST of the government agencies do anyway? This is along the same lines we see everyday in job descriptions – things like “xxxxx with 7 years of experience” – why seven? why not 6 or 8? Some HR groups ATS even send reject letters if you fall 1 month short of 7 years – and why is THAT allowed? It all seems a bit insane to me – Now do we need a governemnet agency to oversee that too?

    BUT we do need some rules (laws if you must) as that is the definition of a civilized society. We could just do with A LOT FEWER of them not more.

    Just my humble uneducated (only have a bs degree) opinion.

    Jim

  50. Keith Halperin

    @Jim: I agree that there are two many laws, and that most should be repealed….At the same time, it seems like a lot of the freedoms being talked about being taken away are the “freedom” for very few folks with loads of money and power being able to use it to take away the freedom of the other 99%+. It wasn’t too many laws and too much regulation that let the banksters wreck our economy losing trillions of dollars and millions of jobs and homes and walk away scot-free with multimillion dollar bonuses.

    I think there may be a better way:

    Economic Democracy and Codetermination: Harnessing the Capitalist Engine

    By Steven Hill | Friday, January 15, 2010

    In the aftermath of the economic crisis, the United States needs a new economic model — one that will decentralize power and put it in the hands of the workers. As Steven Hill suggests in this excerpt from his book, “Europe’s Promise,” the United States might have a lesson to learn from post-World War II Germany.

    n the terrible aftermath of World War II, a group of prominent German economists proposed what they called the “social market economy.” They believed that a free market should also serve broader social goals.

    Interestingly, the victorious Allied powers were encouraging of this line of thinking, since it manifested in economic structures that decentralized economic power, shifting it away from the German industrialists who had supported the Nazis.

    Capitalism has proven itself to be the greatest wealth generator ever, raising the living standards for hundreds of millions of people.

    As a matter of fact, American planners in postwar Germany believed that they were “punishing” the Germans with economic democracy as a way of handicapping concentrations of German wealth and power.

    One of the key structures that evolved out of this thinking was known as codetermination (Mitbestimmung). It included a framework of supervisory boards (Aufsichtsrat) where elected worker representatives sat side-by-side with stockholder representatives on corporate boards of directors, and works councils (Betriebsrat) in every workplace.

    Works councils gave workers a great deal of input at the shop floor level.

    For added surprise, it was Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic government that introduced codetermination in the early 1950s, launching the most democratic corporate governance structure the world has ever seen.

    The magic of what is known as “codetermination,” “supervisory boards” and “works councils” provides Europe’s economy with a distinct advantage over that of the United States. This will become increasingly apparent as the impact of truly global capitalism deepens.

    These distinctly European advances are perhaps the most important innovations in the world economy since the invention of the modern corporation itself.

    One just has to wonder how long it will be before these “goodies” — in part an American-made concept — will be applied in the United States as well. As things stand, the longer we Americans wait, the more of a disadvantage to our economy.

    Imagine Wal-Mart’s board of directors having anywhere from a third to half of its directors elected directly by its workers.

    Unquestionably, capitalism has proven itself to be the greatest wealth generator ever, raising the living standards for hundreds of millions of people. What is at issue is our ability to harness that wealth-generating capacity for the good of the many — instead of the enrichment of the few.

    That harnessing requires a balancing act, an optimal mix of free enterprise combined with the right amount of government regulation that does not unduly burden entrepreneurship and commerce.

    Codetermination — specifically supervisory boards and works councils — is one of the keys to that harnessing, and to Europe’s distinct brand of “social capitalism.”

    Klas Levinson, a researcher for the former National Institute for Working Life in Sweden, is one of the world’s top experts on codetermination. “Codetermination,” he told me, “is Europe’s little secret advantage.”

    He emphasized in particular the crucial role of supervisory boards with employee representatives, broadly overseeing company managers who are handling the day-to-day operations.

    “The idea that elected worker directors should sit side-by-side as equal decision makers with stockholder representatives, supervising management, is a little-known yet unprecedented extension of democratic principle into the corporate sphere.”

    Half of the supervisory board members for the largest corporations in Germany — Siemens, Bertelsmann, BMW, Daimler and many more — are elected by workers. In Sweden, one-third of the directors of their corporations are worker elected.

    Codetermination — specifically supervisory boards and works councils — is one of the keys to the harnessing of our wealth-generating capacity, and to Europe’s distinct brand of “social capitalism.”

    Imagine Wal-Mart’s board of directors having anywhere from a third to half of its directors elected directly by its workers. It’s hard to even conceive of such a notion from the American standpoint. Yet, most European nations employ some version of this as standard operating procedure. The impact has been immensely significant.

    Professor Levinson’s research shows that, contrary to fears that employee representation on corporate supervisory boards would create difficult tensions or render decision-making too cumbersome and time consuming, it actually has fostered a healthy degree of communication and cooperation between management and workers.

    This, in turn, has benefited the businesses as well as the workers. Workers have input, even into important decisions, so the companies are less plagued by labor strife and internal schisms, which can easily paralyze a company.

    According to Levinson, one of his studies of Swedish businesses found that two-thirds of company executives viewed codetermination as “very or rather positive” for their company, because it contributed to a “positive climate,” “made board decisions more deeply rooted among employees” and “facilitated implementation of tough decisions.”

    Eight of ten chairmen were satisfied with the arrangement and felt it was not important to reduce worker representation on their supervisory boards.

    The other twin pillar of codetermination, works councils, are just what their name implies — elected councils at individual companies through which workers gain significant input into their working conditions at the shop-floor level. Works councils are not the same as labor unions or some feel-good or symbolic exercise.

    How long will it be before these economic “goodies” — in part an American-made concept — will be applied in the United States?

    Works councils have real clout. They enjoy veto power over certain management decisions pertaining to the company’s treatment of individual employees, such as redeployment and dismissal.

    They also have “co-decision rights” to meet with management to discuss the firm’s finances, daily work schedules, scheduling of holidays, work organization and other operating procedures.

    In addition, they benefit from “information and consultation rights” in regard to planning for the introduction of new technologies, mergers and layoffs.

    Finally, they can also obtain information that is useful in contract negotiations, such as profit and wage data. In some individual nations — Germany, Sweden and France, among others — works councils have acquired even more rights and greater influence.

    To get a sense of the corporate benefits of this system, ask none other than Ed Whitacer, GM’s new no-nonsense chairman. A tough businessman through and through, this former telecom executive has come to see the benefits of this cooperation with the company’s workers firsthand in his dealings with the top labor representatives in GM’s German subsidiary, Opel.

    Since 1994, when the European Union issued a pioneering directive on works councils, every multinational company with at least 1,000 workers within the EU or with at least 150 workers in two or more EU nations must negotiate agreements with works councils.

    Various academic studies have concluded that works councils contribute to efficiency by improving the flow of communication within companies, which in turn improves the quality and legitimacy of decisions. These studies also found that works councils are associated with lower rates of absenteeism, more worker training, better handling of worker grievances and smoother implementation of health and safety standards.

    Codetermination forms one of the main economic pillars that distinguish the European Way from the American Way.

    Codetermination in European companies generally gives workers a say in their workplace and work conditions far beyond what any workers in the United States can even imagine. It also reflects European community-oriented values and long-term strategic vision.

    In an uncertain age dominated by global capitalism, when flows of capital and investment are international in scope but the movement of workers mostly is not, the interests of businesses and their employees often seem to collide.

    But codetermination facilitates a more harmonious route and gives Europe a distinct advantage over its competitors. In fact, Professor Levinson believes that eventually codetermination will be used throughout the world, since it’s a better system in an age of globalized capitalism.

    “It’s better for long-term planning, and it’s better for making everyone feel like they have input into their economic destiny,” he says.

    Critics allege that codetermination hurts the competitiveness of businesses and the overall economy. But the success of the European economy and of its many global businesses, including having a higher per capita growth rate from 1998-2008 and more Fortune 500 companies than the United States (179 to 140), belies this criticism.

    Indeed, the World Economic Forum in 2008–09 ranked Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands in the top ten for having the most competitive economies in the world. All these countries also employ some degree of codetermination.

    What is at issue is our ability to harness that wealth-generating capacity for the good of the many — instead of the enrichment of the few.

    They also have the highest quality of life, proof that you can have it all — but only if you have the right institutions to facilitate both a powerful economic engine and the supportive institutions and benefits to harness that engine and keep employees and families healthy and productive.

    In the decades following Germany’s launch of social capitalism, some degree of codetermination spread throughout most of Europe, and it also is used to some degree in most of the new EU member states.

    Sixty years after its Deutschland genesis, codetermination is now a core feature of the European economy and integral part of the European consensus — and it forms one of the main economic pillars that distinguish the European Way from the American Way.

    Editor’s Note: This feature is adapted from EUROPE’S PROMISE by Steven Hill, published by University of California Press. Copyright 2010 Steven Hill. Reprinted with permission of the author.

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    The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality (Basic Books)

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  51. Requiring a High School Diploma May be Seen as Discriminatory by the EEOC | Ask Haley

    [...] As reported by ere.net, requiring a high school diploma as a job requirement may be deemed as discriminatory by the EEOC. [...]

  52. Deana Satow

    Wow, this is very argumentative and that is not why I am replying. My former employer was a staffing agency with varied clients. I just wanted to remind everyone of something you may not be thinking of when a job you are thinking as basic as janitor shouldnt need HS diploma or GED. The reason some employers ask for this or require it, is due to reading and logic abilities. You are thinking its simply mopping floors, cleaning toilets, etc. You aren’t thinking of all of the different chemicals being used and the MSDS sheets involved for their own safety and those around them if not used properly or mixed could cause harm.
    In Manufacturing it is sometimes needed because they have to be able to understand & read specs and add/subtract daily sheets and again the MSDS sheets if working around chemicals. It is far from wanting to exclude anyone, many times, its for safety reasons of the candidate being hired, no one wants to ever see anyone injured.

  53. Keith Halperin

    @Deana:
    If you could guarantee functional literacy with a diploma or GED, your point might be valid, but you can’t. Those things are no guarantee that someone can read or write at a necessary level, so instead of requiring a diploma/GED/certification/etc., give ‘em a test of required knowledge/skills.

    Cheers,
    Keith

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