A hard and fast rule that all job applicants must have a high school diploma can get you in trouble.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published new rules about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to people without a high school diploma. Immediately rejecting someone for lacking a high school diploma could be considered discrimination. At first, this sounds like a terrifying and ridiculous rule, but it’s much more nuanced than it first seems. As long as an employer is aware of the rule and how it works, there shouldn’t be any issue (you don’t have to hire someone who isn’t qualified).

The rule has to do with people who did not complete high school because of some disability that prevented them from doing so. If you require a high school diploma to be hired for a job, and an applicant tells you that they were unable to get a high school diploma because of a disability, then all this rule means is you should allow the applicant to show some other evidence proving that they are qualified.

It’s still your decision who to hire, and you can choose another candidate if they are more qualified or simply a better fit for your organization. What’s important though is to give everyone a chance to prove their qualifications, instead of simply rejecting an applicant out of hand solely because they don’t have a diploma.

In practice, this won’t actually affect smart businesses much at all (since just allowing someone a chance to prove qualifications in other ways is a pretty minor accommodation), but it could hurt businesses who are unaware of the new rule. Luckily, you now know how this works, and so you know how to avoid getting in trouble with the EEOC.

Read more about this new rule here:

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/high_school_ada.cfm