The courts look unfavorably on literacy tests for positions that don’t directly require writing skills, as seen by a recent U.S. District Court decision for the Southern District of Ohio.
The court awarded $1.6 million to 700 black workers who were screened out of apprenticeship programs at Ford Motor Company, Visteon Corp. and Automotive Components Holdings, all based in Michigan, plus the United Auto Workers union. The lawsuit was a continuation of an EEOC lawsuit that awarded $8.5 million to an earlier group of plaintiffs.
The lawsuits charged that a written test used to determine the eligibility of hourly employees for skilled trades apprenticeship programs had a disproportionately negative effect on black applicants.
Note: Even seemingly neutral tests can lead to problems if they don’t relate directly to the job in question. Make sure screening tests address only skills that directly relate to the position being applied for.