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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.

Title VII: UGESP; Validation Standards

September 24, 2007


Thank you for your May 24, 2007 letter to Vice Chair Leslie Silverman expressing interest in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's May 16, 2007 meeting on employment testing and screening and also for your comments on test validation methods.

As you know, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission or EEOC) has an interest in test validation due to its enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) et seq. (Title VII), which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin and religion. The Commission is also one of the four issuing agencies of Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP or Uniform Guidelines). The Uniform Guidelines detail methods for validating tests and selection procedures that are found to have a disparate impact based on race, sex or ethnic group. Use of a practice or standard that has a statistically significant negative effect on a protected group is unlawful under Title VII if it is not job-related and consistent with business necessity.

In your May 24, 2007 letter, you offered your opinion on others' suggestion that the current validation standards in the Uniform Guidelines should be revised to reflect the validity generalization theory. You expressed the opinion that validity generalization would compromise enforcement of Title VII. Under the validity generalization theory a test could be validated based on validity evidence drawn from studies involving a range of different settings.

The Uniform Guidelines continue to be a valuable tool in civil rights enforcement. The validation strategies in UGESP are based on legal interpretations and policy considerations, as well as the professional standards of industrial and organizational psychologists. The EEOC relies on validation studies conducted in accordance with the methods set forth in UGESP in assessing the legality of testing and selection procedures.

This letter is an informal discussion of the issues you raised and does not constitute an official opinion of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Carol R. Miaskoff
Assistant Legal Counsel

This page was last modified on November 26, 2007.

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