Does Requiring a High School Diploma Violate ADA?

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In November 2011, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an informal discussion letter that addressed whether employers that require a high school diploma as a condition of employment may be discriminating against individuals who are unable to earn a high school diploma due to a learning disability.

The letter indicated that organizations that require a high school diploma for employment may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) unless “it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity.”

This triggered an avalanche of questions and speculations about this requirement, and has since resulted in the EEOC posting a response to some of the most common questions that have been brought to light.

Here are some of the key questions that were addressed and responses provided by the EEOC:

Is it illegal to require a high school diploma?
No, however, employers may have to allow individuals that have claimed that a disability prevented them from obtaining a high school diploma to demonstrate their qualifications for the job in another way.

Does this mean that an employer must hire the individual that has a disability?
No. The employer may still choose the best applicant for the job. No preference has to be given to the individual with the disability.

Learn the answers to other commonly asked questions about high school diplomas and the ADA at: What You Should Know: Questions and Answers about the EEOC and High School Diploma Requirements.

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The HireRight Blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any statutes or laws cited in this article should be read in their entirety. If you or your customers have questions concerning compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations, we suggest that you address these directly with your legal department or outside counsel.