A high school diploma has long served as the most basic requirement for an entry-level job (notwithstanding declining standards in government schools). But now comes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) declaring that a sheepskin prerequisite constitutes discrimination.
In the opinion of the vaunted EEOC Legal Counsel staff, requiring a high school diploma has a “disparate impact” on individuals with a learning disability. In other words, requiring a high school diploma discriminates against those who don’t have one by holding them to a standard they fail to meet.
Proponents of this rather expansive rendering of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) undoubtedly believe they are advocating for the learning disabled. In actuality, it’s an insult. Many millions of students with learning disabilities graduate high school—with or without the multitude of accommodations that public schools are required to provide. And their diplomas bespeak the very discipline and determination that a business owner dreams of.
Alas, the EEOC’s interpretation of the ADA effectively renders their accomplishments as meaningless, while also eroding the incentive to graduate.
Any employer who dares to require a diploma must be prepared to prove that it’s a “business necessity” and to establish that the work cannot be accomplished otherwise. But that’s not all. According to EEOC staff, the employer must also demonstrate that the job cannot be performed adequately even when the company “accommodates” the applicant lacking educational qualifications.
That’s a daunting burden, of course. And as noted by Heritage researchers James Sherk and Andrew Grossman, such legal risks discourage businesses from hiring altogether.
What we have, then, is a government policy that discourages educational achievement and inhibits hiring—a real disabling of employers.