The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued a fact sheet on the application of federal anti-discrimination laws to employment tests and selection procedures used by employers in the hiring and promotion of employees. Noting that the use of employment tests by employers has increased due in part to post- September 11, 2001 security concerns and issues related to workplace violence, safety and liability, the fact sheet describes common employment-related tests and provides several “best practices” that employers can follow when considering using tests in the employee selection or hiring process.

The fact sheet notes that in making employment decisions, employers may use tests that assess cognitive skills, physical ability, personality, integrity, credit history, and language proficiency tests. The EEOC provides the following “best practices” for employers to follow when using employment tests and other screening devices:

  • Employers should administer tests and other selection procedures without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age (40 or older), or disability
  • Employers should ensure that employment tests and other selection procedures are properly validated for the positions and purposes for which they are used. The test or selection procedure must be job-related and its results appropriate for the employer's purpose. 
  • If a selection procedure screens out a protected group, the employer should determine whether there is an equally effective alternative selection procedure that has less adverse impact and, if so, adopt the alternative procedure. For example, if the selection procedure is a test, the employer should determine whether another test would predict job performance but not disproportionately exclude the protected group.
  • To ensure that a test or selection procedure remains predictive of success in a job, employers should keep abreast of changes in job requirements and should update the test specifications or selection procedures accordingly.
  • Employers should ensure that tests and selection procedures are not adopted casually by managers who know little about these processes. A test or selection procedure can be an effective management tool, but no test or selection procedure should be implemented without an understanding of its effectiveness and limitations for the organization, its appropriateness for a specific job, and whether it can be appropriately administered and scored.