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Different education standards for young applicants is legal

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources

While employers should typically use the same education and experience requirements for all applicants for the same position, they needn’t do so in every case.

For example, a new court ruling says retailers that hire both adults and teens for sales associate jobs can require adults to have a high school diploma while still hiring teens without that credential.

Recent case: Mylann Overall applied for a holiday season sales associate position at a RadioShack store. Overall was a 24-year-old high school dropout who had not yet earned his GED.

RadioShack’s policy set a high school diploma or the equivalent as a minimum hiring criterion for all sales associates over age 18. It did, however, hire younger sales associates who hadn’t yet earned their high school diplomas.

Overall sued, alleging race discrimination. RadioShack said Overall couldn’t sue for race discrimination because he wasn’t qualified for the job.

Overall tried to argue that a high school diploma wasn’t really a minimum requirement because RadioShack hired plenty of high school students as sales associates.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Overall’s case. It said that RadioShack could have a different education standard for teenagers, who couldn’t yet have a high school diploma, than it required for adults. (Overall v. RadioShack Corporation, No. 05-4520, 6th Cir., 2006)  

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