Requiring High School Diploma Must Be Job-Related Under the ADA
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently posted an informal letter regarding individuals ineligible for jobs, which require completion of high school, due to learning disabilities that make them unable to receive a high school diploma. The EEOC said that a high school diploma requirement that screens out individuals on the basis of a disability must be job-related and consistent with business necessity, or such standard may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If it is determined that the diploma standard being used to screen out applicants is job-related and consistent with business necessity, the employer also must show that an individual who does not meet that standard is unable to perform the essential functions of the job, even with an accommodation.
For example, if an employer requires a high school diploma, and that requirement screens out an individual with a learning disability, the employer must show both that a high school education is a job-related requirement for the particular job, and that the essential functions of the job cannot be performed by someone without a high school diploma. It must then determine whether the applicant whose learning disability kept him or her from receiving a high school diploma can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation. If, with or without reasonable accommodation, the applicant is able to perform the essential functions of the job without a high school diploma, the employer cannot use the lack of a diploma to screen out the disabled applicant from the applicant pool.
While this interpretation of the ADA does not have the force of law, it is still instructive. Read the letter here.