Legally, companies have the right to ask an applicant to submit to all kinds of tests, including personality tests, before an applicant is hired. This can include drug tests, academic tests, background checks, credit checks, and other types of tests. An employer has the right to ensure that an applicant is the right fit for the job before investing a significant amount of time and money into training that person.
Personality tests are one tool that employers use to determine whether employees will be a good fit for the job. A person’s personality can be one of the biggest determiners of whether he or she will be successful in the company. A personality test can also help determine if the applicant’s personality will mesh well with the personalities of the managers and co-workers of that particular company or department.
Employers’ use of online personality tests in the hiring process has exploded in the last 10 years. About 60 to 70 percent of prospective workers in the U.S. are asked to take personality tests as part of the hiring process, according to experts. Workplace personality tests are a $500 million a year industry and it is growing rapidly. Many major corporation use personality tests and they are especially popular in customer-service jobs.
However, some civil rights groups are starting to take issue with personality groups. Although companies can choose a job applicant based on personality, they cannot choose an applicant based on other factors, such as race, age, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, disability, or other similar characteristics. Some workplace personality tests may actually discriminate against certain groups of people. For example, a personality test that asks how long your commute to work would be may discriminate against applicants from minority neighborhoods that are located some distance from the office.
Currently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating whether personality tests discriminate against people with disabilities. The EEOC is concerned that people with mental illnesses, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are being unfairly treated in the testing process, even if they have the right skills for the job. Although many sellers of personality tests claim that the tests do not have an impact on applicants based on race or gender, not many studies have been done concerning whether those with disabilities could be affected.
In 2011, CVS settled a case which claimed that certain questions asked on its personality tests solicited information about the mental health or disabilities of its applicants. CVS removed the offending questions. In 2012, an engineering student who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder applied for hourly jobs at a variety of retail establishments, but was turned down everywhere. His father, an attorney, spoke with seven of the companies about his concerns, and decided to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. The EEOC is still looking at those issues.
Today’s job market is still somewhat tight, especially in some parts of the country and in some industries. It can be tough for a job applicant to find a job, especially if the job applicant has a disability, even though companies are not supposed to discriminate against applicants based on disability. For an applicant to take a personality test which could discriminate further may be considered illegal employment discrimination.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that job applicants should be fairly evaluated based on their references, skills, and experience, not on a disability. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the workplace, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland employment discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. The company may have behaved in an illegal fashion and can be held legally liable. Call to learn more.