[IPAC-List] EEOC "Discussion" Letter

Pritchard, Ken Ken.Pritchard at MWAA.com
Tue Dec 6 15:23:42 EST 2011

During this BAD day, this is my FUN. Get a feeling for how BAD a day I am having?

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 3:04 PM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] EEOC "Discussion" Letter

The meaning of ANY academic credential changes meaning over history, and
in multiple ways, some of which have to do with presumed capability and
acquired knowledge, and others of which have to do with social factors.

Once upon a time, completion of secondary school WAS an achievement of
sorts. Heck, if you finished HS, then *you* became the teacher. While
those of us with kids in school can probably wax cynically poetic for
the rest of the afternoon about "kids today" and the relative substance
of an 80% grade in 1971 vs 2011, I think it is probably also true that
NOT completing HS, in North America, in this century, carries more
*social* meaning than it might have 30-40 years ago. Someone in their
50s without a HS diploma, I'd think "Well, that sort of thing happened".
Call me prejudiced, but someone in their 20s without HS, my first
impression (before learning anything else) is "This guy is probably a

Works the other way too. When I was doing my doctoral work in
cognitive aging, we'd try and compare elderly and college age samples on
educational attainment. At one level, it seemed reasonable to propose
that a mean attainment of, say, 14.7 years of full-time education for
the young sample, and 14.5yrs for the elderly sample, made them sort of
comparable, right? On the other hand, think in terms of just how
*atypical* a woman who got a B.A. was in the 1930s. If anything, our
elderly sample was much more highly selected, and much less
representative of their birth cohort than the undergrads we were

Sometimes an academic credential (or its absence) is not just a simple
indicator of training or capability, but a marker of some other sort of
selective factor, that could be positive OR negative. If one is dealing
with a fairly homogenous applicant pool, it is a somewhat simpler matter
to establish the validity of a given credential for the job. Once your
applicant pool reaches a certain threshold of heterogeneity, though, the
social *meaning* of the credential, relative to the candidate's cohort
and context, starts to matter, and muck things up a bit.

If we were living in an era when only kids starting out in life went
for jobs that needed HS, it would be a simpler exercise. As
unemployment figures rise, and more people end up taking on several jobs
(including those that might be atypical for their age group/cohort),
asserting validity becomes more complicated.

Mark Hammer

>>> "Pritchard, Ken" <Ken.Pritchard at MWAA.com> 2011/12/06 2:30 PM >>>

My own view of this is that employers should carefully consider what
is that a HS diploma represents so as to determine why "equivalent
education, experience and training" could, or could not, be
for the "hard" educational criteria, and then be able to specify (for
its own use) many of the sets of acceptable substitution and apply
the "hard" criteria and the sets of substitution in the review of
applications. (This is true of many other "hard" educational
in my view, except those established by licensing boards and such.
NOT permit substitutions for education for most types and levels of

Of course, a vacancy posting should indicate that "an equivalent
combination of education, experience and training" is acceptable. I
would not try to publish for applicants ALL of the exact sets of
substitutable human capital that the employer has pre-identified
my guess is that many times the employer only "knows it when it sees

Here's a provocative question: Does anyone doubt that, GENERALLY, a
diploma of 20 or 30 years ago represents much more than one does today?

- Ken Pritchard, Metro Wash Airports Authority

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org
[mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org] On Behalf Of Mitch Stein
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2011 1:00 PM
To: 'ipac-list at ipacweb.org'
Subject: [IPAC-List] EEOC "Discussion" Letter

Spotted this in the employment law news.


On the one hand, I agree with the legal interpretation in the letter.
On the other hand, I wonder if this creates an impossible burden on
employers with huge numbers of applicants?

Something not discussed in the letter: if accepting a GED or job
experience in lieu of education avoids the need to do individual
assessments of everyone who claims they did not get a diploma because
LD or some other disability. If I were an ambulance-chasing shyster
be out recruiting every high school dropout who might arguably have
LD I could get to start flooding organizations with applications for
every job that required high school education or higher.


Mitchell Stein, PhD
Director of Research
TN Dept. of Human Resources
(615) 532-8069

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