Posts Tagged ‘ADA’

EEOC: Diploma Requirement May Violate ADA

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Why Does This Agency Exist?

This is another absurd bit of prospective interference by government in the market, once again under the umbrella of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and again put forward in such a manner as to defy all logic.  At this point, it’s still just a discussion letter, but by now, you should realize that once the government begins to openly discuss an idea, t’s only a matter of time before they cram it down our throats.   I realize there are those who support the existence of the ADA, but frankly, I am not one of them, primarily because I have seen too many scam artists who avail themselves of the protections of such a law when no reasonable person would ever conclude they were “disabled” or otherwise honestly in need of the protections of such law. Do we really need government to be making these decisions?

These things always devolve into a scam. Always.  In this case, what they’re discussing is whether an employer requiring a High School Diploma as a screening criteria might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, if they had been prevented from graduating High School because they had some learning disability covered under the act.  In the long run, I can see it being used by ne’er-do-wells who failed to finish high school as the means to bypass ordinary educational requirements.  I can see it already:  “I didn’t graduate because I had a learning disability.”  “Really, what was your learning disability?”  “I had an obsessive compulsive disorder that caused me to play hooky a lot, but you can’t ask me that.

Yes, this is real.  Yes, this is actually under discussion.  If I’m asking you for a High School diploma for a ditch-digging job, it’s because I’m going to need you to fill out all those lovely government forms before you can start. Seriously.  If you cannot complete High School due to a learning disability, or because you were simply a ne’er-do-well, what on earth makes you think you’re entitled to be considered for a job that requires much beyond basic manual labor?  What the EEOC is discussing is whether a High School diploma requirement is an unfair tool of discrimination.  Have you talked to some of the people who manage to graduate high school these days? At the current rate of depreciation of educational diplomas, one might want to ask for a doctorate before hiring somebody to flip burgers.  Call them “Hygienic Food Preparation Engineers.”  I probably shouldn’t make light of this, but I’m shocked at how ridiculous this has become.

I know that’s not fair to the bulk of High School graduates who earn their diplomas, but I’m not really talking about them.  More specifically, I mean some of the blooming morons who manage to complete High School.  The education system manages to pass through some people who it seems couldn’t complete middle school, much less high school, but then again, a high school diploma may signify more than simple learning.  It also says something about one’s basic willingness to comply with and conform to standards and rules, or at least it did in my day.

At my current day job, we screen out applicants for the entry-level positions on the basis of many things, and among them is the High School Diploma or GED.  Those new employees spend the first 4-6 weeks training full time before ever performing the actual job, because it’s specialized and requires the ability to rapidly gather information from many sources, manage multiple computers, redistribute that information rapidly, and follow very precise standards.  Even with the requirements, we have a 60% failure rate among trainees.  Why?  Clearly, it’s because many of the trainees don’t measure up on the simpler things, like showing up on time, or following directions, or relatively simple procedural performance measures.  One of the things we have seen over time is that those with GEDs are less likely to arrive on time, and follow conventions and norms, to the point that we have looked at simply saying GEDs need not apply, because their failure rate is greater than the average, and since we spend so much time and money training, it doesn’t make sense to pour it down a bottomless pit.

Based on what I know, I cannot imagine the case in which a learning disability that had prevented somebody from obtaining a High School diploma wouldn’t similarly prohibit them from performing the functions of these jobs in my organization.  More than that, however, I know how my organization is apt to respond to such a ruling if it were to effectively become the new regulatory norm:  They would spend hours amending their job requirements to rule out anybody who could not demonstrate the same level of competency without ever referencing a High School Diploma.  They will merely make it exhaustively clear that to successfully maintain employment in that job will require certain skills for which “high school diploma” has always been an effective short-hand.

Sure, Human Resources will spend time and effort on it, making sure we’ve complied in every way with the letter of the law, but the fact is that we already comply with its spirit.  Of course, we’re not a small business, but can you imagine this sort of thing being applied to them?  They don’t have staff devoted to these sorts of things, never mind an HR department.  This is the sort of preposterous, confounding,  job-killing regulation for which the government has no actual justification, except to make work for those who are engaged in these sorts of ‘discussion letters.’  Which brings me to my conclusion:  In further Job Openings at the EEOC, they should include a line in their criteria that states “Those possessing common sense need not apply.”

I’m sure it’s merely assumed at present.