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Posted December 19th, 2012 in Legal Insights

Is it Lawful to Include Education Requirements in Job Postings?

“Education degree required” has been a common refrain within job postings for years, but new rumblings from equal employment authorities claim that such prerequisites can easily have a disparate impact on protected classes like minorities or those with disabilities. In a November 17 discussion letter, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) opined that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “if an employer adopts a high school diploma requirement for a job, and that requirement ‘screens out’ an individual who is unable to graduate because of a (condition) that meets the ADA’s definition of ‘disability,’ the employer may not apply the standard unless it can demonstrate that the diploma requirement is job related and consistent with business necessity.” The EEOC adds that employers shouldn’t list high school diplomas as a job requirement if it’s possible for the job functions to be performed by those without them. A related EEOC letter warns that post-graduate requirements may unlawfully rule out minorities should there be alternative screening criteria that equally meet the organization’s business objectives. Nilan Johnson Lewis Shareholder David James sees these missives as initial steps in trying to assess public perception on the issue, and he is quick to point out that the EEOC’s interpretation may not necessarily be aligned with that of the court system. However, he advises clients to be extremely judicious when determining job qualifications: “It’s important to ask yourself if including an education requirement is essential to generating the right applicant pool or merely status quo. If an education requirement was challenged, could you explain why you needed it?” Contact David James at (612) 305-7573 or

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