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Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. Your question does have merit. Even where an employer does not intend to discriminate, it may be found liable under Title VII if it uses a facially neutral practice that has a significant disparate effect on a protected group, unless the practice is “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Even if the practice is job-related and consistent with business necessity, the employer may nonetheless be liable if there is an alternative practice “that would be equally effective in predicting job performance, but that would not disproportionately exclude the protected group.” EEOC, EMPLOYMENT TESTS AND SELECTION PROCEDURES (2008),http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/factemployment_procedures.html (Fact Sheet); see also 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(k). This is called “disparate impact” discrimination.
If someone could show—most likely using statistical evidence—that the strict requirement had such an adverse effect, and that the effect was significant, adopting the requirement could subject [the employer] to liability for disparate impact discrimination unless (a) [the employer] could show that the requirement is job-related and consistent with business necessity, and (b) the plaintiff could not show that a less discriminatory requirement would have been equally effective in predicting job performance.
[The employer] could show that degree requirement is job-related and consistent with business necessity by showing that it is “necessary to the safe and efficient performance” of the the job. See Fact Sheet. Whether [the employer] could make such a showing depends on the specific duties of the job. Two relevant considerations are how effectively a degree predicts job performance, and whether the strict degree requirement applies to other people holding substantially similar jobs. Assuming that the employer could show that the degree requirement was “job related and consistent with business necessity,” an employer might nevertheless be liable if there is an available alternative that would equally effectively meet its business objectives.
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Well now your talking about using the "degree requirement" as an excuse for discriminating amongst the employees. This is called disparate treatment. The issue in this type of case is a little different in that you'd have to show that the employer intends to discriminate against an employee and is using the "degree requirement" as a pretextual (fake) reason to justify discrimination. But, nonetheless, it is still unlawful discrimination - just a little different proof requirement.
The company is free to implement educational requirements on a case by case basis -there is no law strictly against that. The problem that it could face however, is that if it holds an employee to a higher degree level and the employee alleges and put together some proof that the higher degree requirement is being required because of the employee's particular protected class - for example (age, race, gender, religious beliefs).
Is this clear...let me know if you have any follow up questions
You're welcome. Please leave a positive rating before you exit this chat as it is the only way I get credit for my answers. If you have any questions in the future regarding this matter come back to this thread and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks.
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