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Learn the legal risks of viewing school records

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Issue: Using school transcripts to screen applicants can lead to discrimination claims.

Risk: Without guidance, hiring managers can inadvertently use school records to discriminate against minorities, women or disabled people.

Action: Train hiring managers to ignore irrelevant transcript data and school attendance records.

Worried that poor grades and spotty attendance might spell an employment risk, more employers are requiring applicants to supply school transcripts.

Our advice: Know the legal risks first. Reviewing school records isn't illegal, but if the practice results in turning away more minorities, women or disabled people, you could be inviting a discrimination lawsuit.

Bottom line: If your company asks applicants for school records, it must:


  • Establish recordkeeping systems to prevent hiring managers from seeing irrelevant data, such as records on an applicant's health problems or disability , that could expose your company to liability.
  • Don't put too much stock in school attendance. Applicants may have perfectly good reasons for school absences.
  • Check your state's laws on using school disciplinary records.
  • Base hiring decisions on job-related qualifications.


Good resource: The Business Coalition for Education Reform offers a free online booklet, Hiring Smart: An Employer's Guide to Using School Records. Go to www.bcer.org/macc/hiring_smart.cfm.

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