Requiring a High School Diploma May Be Discriminatory Says EEOC

Requiring a high school diploma as a condition of employment for some jobs could land you in trouble with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

An “informal discussion letter” just posted to the EEOC’s website says that under certain circumstances, requiring a diploma may run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the requirement screens out persons unable to earn a diploma because of a bonafide disability, the employer has to justify the requirement as job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Doing that for some jobs isn’t going to be easy. Employers almost as a matter of routine include at least a high school degree requirement in every job posting, including for janitors and cleaners. The U.S. Labor Department, however, says, “Most building cleaning workers, except supervisors, do not need any formal education and mainly learn their skills on the job or in informal training sessions sponsored by their employers.”

Most, if not all, states have a law as far as compulsory school attendance.  In my state, compulsory attendance is from the ages of 7 to 17.  It’s sad to think that children are required to be in school these 10 years and are not earning a high school diploma in that time.  High school is not that hard, and the millions of people that are continuing on to get college degrees are proof of that.

I don’t blame employers for wanting to have standards in who they hire.  Requiring a high school diploma is about as low as you can get. If an applicant has a high school diploma, it’s assumed that he/she has a certain level of education.  It assumes that you have received a general education that will enable you to function in society.  (I understand that there are exceptions to all the rules.)

If a high school diploma isn’t required then what is?  When an employer has one job opening and hundreds of applicants, the screening process has to start somewhere.  Requiring a high school diploma is a reasonable start.


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