published Monday, March 26th, 2012

Diplomas and the EEOC's definition of discrimination

In one of its strangest declarations yet, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is warning employers that they may be breaking the law if they won't hire high school dropouts.

The warning, posted on the EEOC's website, says requiring a diploma is permissible only if it is "job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity." Otherwise, the agency says, the employer risks discriminating against people who did not graduate because they had a learning disability.

But with vast numbers of employers long having required a diploma before they will hire someone, they plainly consider the basic skills a person is supposed to have after graduating from high school "job-related."

Most jobs these days require at least some basic math and reading skills that a dropout may not possess. Hinting at legal action against employers who require a diploma may force them to hire people who may not be qualified.

And it could even encourage people to drop out of high school, said Mary Theresa Metzler, a Philadelphia attorney.

The "unintended and unfortunate" effect of the EEOC warning is that "There will be less incentive for the general public to obtain a high school diploma if many employers eliminate that requirement for job applicants in their workplace," she told The Washington Times.

Does the federal government want to be pushing policies that indirectly encourage people to drop out of school, while also generating more "discrimination" lawsuits against employers?

This is not the only way Washington is making the hiring process more difficult. The EEOC is also going after companies that screen out job applicants who have arrests or convictions -- if that background is not considered "relevant" to a position. But employers are far more competent than distant federal bureaucrats to know whether a conviction is relevant to a job, and companies should not be forced to hire lawbreakers.

Federal meddling is complicating the jobs picture in our country by urging, if not forcing, the hiring of less qualified or less honest employees.

That is no way to foster successful, efficient workplaces.

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