Hiring Assessment Tests May Pose Significant Liability

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Hiring Assessment Tests May Pose Significant Liability

Hiring assessments have recently proven to be a significant source of risk for employers, particularly when they may create a disparate impact on a protected class. This has recently been demonstrated when one employer reached a settlement of $1.35 million with a female applicant. This suit was based on a hiring assessment requiring applicants to lift a 50 lb. crate resulting in hiring very few women.

Physical assessments are certainly not the only hiring tools that can put your business at risk. Tools such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory may put employers at risk of a discrimination suit if they are not appropriately used. So, let’s talk about how an employer can help ensure they don’t find themselves on the wrong side of a discrimination suit.

First of all, employers must ensure that the assessments they use are designed to measure an applicant’s ability to perform the position in question. This means measuring the actual skills and abilities that directly relate to the job they would be performing. Does the assessment actually relate to job performance, reduced turnover, or metrics of revenue or customer satisfaction?

Simply an assurance from a vendor that a test is effective in determining good employee performance is not enough. It is important for employers to consider the effect on their own applicants and employees. From there, determine if it actually provides evidence of good performance. 

The ability to prove that an assessment is actually related to job duties will be one of the strongest defenses of the validity of a test. However, employers must also consider if the test is actually bias-free and will not disproportionately impact a protected class unnecessarily.

For example, if an employee can perform the position for which they are applying without lifting a fifty-pound weight, then they should not be asked to do so as a consideration for the job. Other assessments such as situational judgment tests should be designed particularly for the employer in question by a qualified industrial and organizational psychologist. Also, remember to consider those with disabilities and how such assessments may affect them. How will your assessment work with those with a speech impairment? Additionally, consider those for which English is not their first language.

Considerations such as these are critical in any assessments for employment. Consider reviewing your current hiring assessments and ensure they are relevant, unbiased, and up to date in order to minimize liability and the risk of discrimination lawsuits.