Thursday, May 17, 2007

EEOC Meeting Focuses on Employment Testing and Screening

On Wednesday, May 16th, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a meeting to discuss issues relating to employment testing and screening, including the relevant laws enforced by the EEOC (e.g., Title VII, ADA, ADEA).

Several issues were discussed, including potential problems with specific screening methods (e.g., cognitive ability tests, credit checks), how the EEOC can better serve employers, and steps employers need to take in order to meet professional and legal guidelines (e.g., gathering validity evidence, investigating alternative methods with less adverse impact). Not for the first time, speakers emphasized that the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures need to be updated.

Speakers included EEOC staff members, plaintiffs in two of the more discussed recent cases (EEOC v. Dial Corp. and EEOC v. Ford Motor Co.), attorneys, and professionals in the field of assessment, including James Outtz and Kathleen Lundquist, who have frequently been retained as expert witnesses in employment discrimination cases.

Said Richard Tonowski from the EEOC:

"A mature technology of testing promises readily-available methods that serve as a check against both traditional forms of discrimination as well as the workings of unconscious bias. If that is the promise, then the threat comes from institutionalizing technical problems not yet fully addressed, the undermining of equal employment opportunity under the guise of sound selection practice, and the unintended introduction of new problems that will require resolution to safeguard test-takers and test-users."

Personality testing was mentioned prominently as an increasingly common practice among employers, but it appears (contrary to my earlier fears) that the focus was on those tests that could be considered "medical tests" under the ADA (such as the original MMPI), which leaves out many products, including the HPI, 16PF, and PCI.

Hopefully I'll have the slides from the presentation to post soon. In the meantime, check out this excellent summary from an attendee, and you can view the EEOC press release here. Statements of the speakers, along with their bios, can be found here, and it looks like the meeting transcript will be available there as well.

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