Pre-employment testing is a valuable asset to your business, especially now that talent shortages are at a 10-year high. By administering skills testing during the selection process, your HR department can effectively evaluate candidates. They can measure both hard and soft skills to make informed hiring decisions that will benefit your organization.
However, your pre-employment tests must comply with EEOC guidelines. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published detailed regulations that govern the use of selection testing. This article will briefly recap what the EEOC is, what types of testing they allow, and what guidelines they have implemented.
What is the EEOC?
Founded in 1965, the EEOC is a federal agency designed to enforce and administer civil rights laws as they pertain to workplace discrimination. They have the authority to investigate allegations of discrimination against employers. The EEOC was tasked with creating guidelines for pre-employment testing as part of its mission to prevent discrimination in the workplace.
When the EEOC receives a discrimination complaint, they investigate the concern. If warranted, the EEOC will refer the complaint to an administrative court to hear the case. In addition to hearing complaints, the Administrative Judge can adjudicate appeals made by federal agencies.
The EEOC has taken several significant enforcement actions regarding the use of pre-employment tests.
For instance, the EEOC named Ford Motor Company and the United Automobile Workers of America in a complaint. The judge determined that one of Ford’s tests had a disparate impact on a specific class of workers. As a result, they were required to replace the test and pay more than $8.5M in monetary relief.
Types of Pre-employment Tests Authorized by the EEOC
The EEOC authorizes pre-employment tests that cover a wide range of skills. Employers can administer cognitive tests that assess memory, perceptual speed, reasoning, and reading comprehension. In addition, the EEOC permits the use of physical ability tests that gauge a candidate’s aptitude for performing job-related tasks.
Medical examinations, criminal background checks, credit checks, performance appraisals, and English proficiency tests are a few other examples of the types of exams authorized by the EEOC. They have implemented very few limitations regarding the types of tests that employers use to assess talent.
Instead, they focus on preventing workplace discrimination and limiting the use of tests that will disproportionately impact a protected class of workers.
Following Title VII, the EEOC prohibits the use of selection or pre-employment testing that is “designed, intended or used to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” Organizations must ensure that they do not inadvertently treat people of different races, religions, sex, color, or national origin differently from other applicants.
In addition, employers must actively avoid disparate impact discrimination. This discrimination occurs when employers use neutral selection procedures or tests that disproportionately exclude individuals based on sex, national origin, religion, color, or race.
The case described above that involved Ford Motor Co. was a “disparate impact” discrimination case. While there was no evidence of intentional discrimination, Ford’s cognitive test had a disparate impact on African American applicants in a statistically significant way.
What is EEOC Test Validation?
The EEOC adopted the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP) in 1978. The UGESP provides uniform guidance for organizations to accurately determine whether their selection and testing procedures comply with the disparate impact clause of Title VII.
The UGESP requires that employers validate tests to demonstrate that the assessment is job-related and necessary for the evaluation of talent.
By using only validated tests, your organization can reduce the risk of incurring civil liability under the disparate impact theory. Providers should routinely reevaluate tests to ensure that they are still a good screening mechanism. If you determine that there is a concerning trend with a specific test, you must implement a less discriminatory selection procedure.
EEOC-compliant Tests from eSkill
As you can see, the EEOC has set forth stringent guidelines for pre-employment tests. These regulations are meant to protect various worker classes and ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue gainful employment. Violations of EEOC selection testing guidelines can open your organization up to substantial liability, including fines and civil suits.
Therefore, you must use validated tests that comply with EEOC regulations. While you can create and validate tests independently, the more efficient solution is to utilize skills assessments from eSkill. Our online testing library includes hundreds of validated exams. They cover subjects ranging from Attention to Detail and Numerical Reasoning to Technical Writing Skills.
eSkill tests are routinely evaluated to ensure they conform to EEOC regulations and recommendations to prevent intentional and accidental bias. By working with our team, you can ensure that your pre-employment tests screen candidates based on skills alone.
If you would like to learn more about our pre-employment testing solutions, contact us today. You can speak with one of our assessment experts or schedule a complimentary demo.