Outreach to Stakeholders Comes as Employers Screen Increasing Number of Applicants
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today held a public meeting to gather information and address emerging trends in workplace testing and selection procedures, as employers seek lawful and efficient ways to screen large numbers of applicants. Discriminatory employment tests and selection procedures violate EEOC-enforced federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
“Today employers commonly use a range of employment tests and other screening tools to make hiring, promotion, termination or other employment decisions,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “With the growth of technology, buttressed by post-9/11 security concerns, it is important that employers review their applicant selection procedures to ensure they are non-discriminatory.”
During today’s meeting at agency headquarters, the Commission heard from a broad range of invited expert panelists, including EEOC attorneys and charging parties, advocates on behalf of employers and employees, and two nationally recognized organizational psychologists. Topics of discussion included written tests, criminal and credit histories as a basis for selection, medical exclusions in hiring, and employer best practices. The meeting also highlighted the increased use of personality and integrity tests.
James Robinson, an African American skilled trade worker at the Ford Motor Company, discussed his role as an original charging party in a major racial bias case against the auto giant and the United Auto Workers union (UAW) filed by the EEOC in 2004. The EEOC alleged that Ford and the UAW used discriminatory tests when selecting people for their Joint Apprenticeship Program. The parties negotiated a broad-reaching settlement that included updating the apprenticeship tests so that Ford could benefit from the skills of all its workers.
“I saw the financial and personal harm that exclusion from the apprenticeship program caused many of my African American coworkers,” said Robinson, an apprentice test-taker who was hired by Ford in 1996 as a manufacturing technician at a plant near Cincinnati. “A lot of us felt betrayed that these things still happened today. But then I realized that we cannot allow people to discriminate against us – we have to stand up for what we believe in to make things change.”
Rae T. Vann, general counsel of the Equal Employment Advisory Council, a national association of large federal contractors, observed, “When done properly, testing can be a very important tool in the employment selection process, and we commend the Commission on its efforts to improve the quality and fairness of tests and other job screening methods.” She called on the EEOC to “develop education and outreach programs aimed at assisting both its own investigators as well as employers to understand the rules that apply to testing and selection procedures.” Other employer advocates testifying at the meeting recommended ways in which the Commission could assist employers with compliance.
The meeting concluded with commentary from Dr. James Outtz and Dr. Kathleen Lundquist, nationally prominent psychologists who design state-of-the-art employment tests. They both emphasized that employers using tests need to continually reassess the validity of tests used, as well keep abreast of testing developments that may provide a less discriminatory alternative to current practices.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on May 16, 2007.
Return to Home Page