Mark Smith

Partner

mark@jmsmithlaw.com

The EEOC has recently placed several new victories in its quest against employee discrimination. From settlements to winning big name court cases, the EEOC has made a name for itself regarding its staunch enforcement of employment equality and anti-discrimination laws in the workforce, particularly towards employee exams.

The first of these involved Celadon Trucking Services, Inc. and the claim that they were violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by subjecting 23 applicants to medical examinations. The ADA strictly prohibits employers from making applicants take medical examinations prior to an offer of employment as well as discriminating against applicants due to a disability or a perceived disability. While it was immediately clear that that Celadon was in violation of the medical examination clause, facts would determine that two of the applicants were well qualified for the position, but were dismissed due to their disabilities. As a result, Celadon had a total sum of $200,000 in damages to all 23 applicants, and are required to train its management employees on disability discrimination, post notices of non-discrimination at the work site, and other activities for five years.

In fact, the latest EEOC lawsuit targets what they claim to be a discriminatory employee exam. The defendant, Columbine Management Services, Inc., began requiring that all Personal Care Providers (PCPs) needed to complete a written exam as part of a training course. What the EEOC argues is that exam provided no “formal job analysis of essential skills to perform in the PCP position”. Instead, the EEOC states, it served to discriminate against a specific group of employees by providing grounds to discharge those who didn’t pass, most affected were African employees. Questions known to confuse ESL speakers were present along with variables unrelated to the skills vital to the position. The EEOC also alleges that partial credit was distributed unequally, stating that African test takers received “little to no credit” for partially correct answers as opposed to their non-African counterparts.

It’s clear that the recent activity of the EEOC shows no signs of slowing down their policing of employee testing and selection procedures.  Employers today have to be extremely careful and tedious whenever developing an employee test. They must ensure that they are following the laws and regulations regarding equal employment and opportunity. If taken lightly, they risk exposing themselves to potential lawsuits and long term fines and punishments due to the lack of compliance. This just shows how far the EEOC will go to uncover hints of discrimination and punish violators at all levels.

If you’re an employer and have any questions regarding compliance towards EEOC standards, feel free to contact the Smith Reed & Armstrong, PLLC here.