EEOC Examines Employment Screening Trends

Federal Human Resources Week
May 28, 2007

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is looking at emerging trends in employment screening practices to help public and private employers ensure they are fairly assessing applicants.

EEOC Chairwoman Naomi Earp said employment tests and medical exams must adhere to restrictions set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. She is also concerned with the possible discriminatory impact increasingly common applicant screenings such as credit checks have on minorities and people with disabilities.

Panelists during a recent commission meeting said there are benefits to using tests and objective screening devices to identify prime candidates who are most likely to succeed on the job. However, employers always face the risk that tests may have an adverse impact on one particular group of applicants.

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As a result, most panelists agreed revisions to the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, which are found at 29 CFR Part 1607, are needed, especially since public and private employers are often inundated with thousands of electronic job applications.

To avoid any adverse impact, screening tests should be periodically evaluated, said Kathleen Lundquist, president of Applied Psychological Techniques Inc. She recommended human resources managers:

* Conduct a thorough job analysis.

* Identify the job’s specific skill sets.

* Give proposed job applicant screening tests to individuals currently in the job to see how they perform. If the current workforce scores poorly, it may be a signal that the test is not screening for the right skills.

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Another emerging trend is using an applicant’s credit history to determine suitability.

The idea is a poor credit score may indicate the applicant’s propensity to steal, said Adam Klein, a partner with Outten and Golden.

But “no correlation between a person’s credit score and his involvement in criminal activity has yet to be established,” he said.

Commissioner Christine Griffin pointed out that the absence of credit is a “huge problem” for people with disabilities and those who are new to this country.