HR Guide to the Internet:
Personnel Selection: Law/Legal Issues: Court Cases
One of the first important court cases to address the interpretation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was Griggs v. Duke Power
. The impetus for this case was the requirement, by Duke Power, that laborers transferring to other departments have a high school diploma. This selection requirement failed under scruitiny since there were non-minorities who performed satisfactorily and achieved promotions though they did not have diplomas. In this case, the court emphasized that a selection device should measure the person for the job, not the person in the abstract.
Commenting in this case on Title VII of the the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the court stated:
Nothing in the Act precludes the use of testing or measuring procedures; obviously they are useful. What Congress has forbidden is giving these devices and mechanisms controlling force unless they are demonstrably a reasonable measure of job performance...What Congress has commanded is that any tests used must measure the person for the job and not the person in the abstract
In Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody, the U.S. Supreme Court reinforced the concept of job relatedness. Though Albermarle had employed a psychologist to demonstrate correlations between test scores and job performance ratings, the Court noted that the correlations were only shown for three of eight job progressions for which the test was used and no job analysis was conducted. In supporting earlier court decisions, the Court emphasized the need for data on all jobs.
A test may be used in jobs other than those for which it has been professionally validated only if there are no significant differences between the studied and unstudied jobs.
In summary, the major influences by Courts on Personnel Selection are as follows:
- "Congress [has] placed on the employer (in the Civil Rights Act of 1964) the burdon of showing that any given [selection] requirement must have a manifest relationship to the employment [job] in question."
- "[G]ood intent or absence of discriminatory intent does not redeem employment procedures or testing mechanisms that operate as built-in headwinds...Congress directed the thrust of the Act (Title VII) to the consequences of employment practices, not simply the motivation." Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 432, 91 S. Ct. 849, 28 L.Ed.2d 158 (1971).
- Congress has commanded "...that any tests used must measure the person for the job and not the person in the abstract." (Griggs v. Duke Power)
- "Job relatedness cannot be proven through vague and unsubstantiated hearsay." (Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody)
- Limiting job analysis to selected jobs, that are unrepresentative of the full range of work performed, is inadequate for test development. (Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody)
While a job analysis alone does not provide insurance against litigation, it is a key element in designing human performance management and development systems that can stand up to legal challenges.