EEOC Explains Position on ADA and High School Diplomas

March 13, 2012

In a prior posting, we informed you about the EEOC’s position that an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma as a job prerequisite may violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“The EEOC recently posted on its website that requiring a high school diploma may violate the American’s With Disabilities Act if the requirement unfairly discriminates against individuals with learning disabilities.  It is the EEOC’s position that such a requirement may be unlawful if it not “job related and consistent with business necessity.”

The EEOC has now indicated “[t]here has been significant commentary and conjecture about the meaning and scope of the letter.”  Accordingly, the EEOC has posted a number of questions and answers to its website to help explain its position.  Of critical importance is its explanation that the ADA “only protects someone whose disability makes it impossible for him or her to get a diploma. It would not protect someone who simply decided not to get a high school diploma.”  Employers would be allowed to require applicants to prove that their alleged disability prevented them from meeting the diploma requirement.  Finally, the EEOC reiterated that employers are always allowed to hire the most qualified person for the job and does not have to give preferential treatment to an individual with a disability over someone who is more qualified.