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Beware legal risks of using school transcripts in hiring

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Worried that poor grades and lax attendance might spell an employment risk, more employers are requesting applicants' school transcripts.

Our advice: Tread with care. Re-viewing school records isn't illegal, but if it results in turning away more minorities, women or disabled people, you could be inviting a discrimination lawsuit.

Here are the ground rules: If your company asks for school records as part of the application process, it must:

  1. Retain recordkeeping systems to prevent hiring managers from seeing irrelevant data that could expose your company to liability, such as records on an applicant's health problems or disability.
  2. Avoid setting rigid attendance re-quirements. Candidates may have perfectly good reasons for school absences.
  3. Check state laws on using disciplinary records.
  4. Base hiring decisions on job-related qualifications.

Good resource: The Business Co-alition for Education Reform offers a free online booklet, Hiring Smart: An Employer's Guide to Using School Records, at www.bcer.org/macc/hiring_ smart.cfm.

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