Validate Your Assessments – or Get a Good Lawyer

Written by Vicki Lauter on . Posted in Attracting Employees

How important is it to use validated assessments? Not very, if you have a few hundred thousand to a million dollars burning a hole in your organization’s pocket. The use of non-validated assessments can expose you to lawsuits which, to be frank, you fully deserve for engaging in practices that can lead to discrimination. And, adding insult to injury, you probably missed out on some great employees.

But let’s back up a minute: what does “validated” actually mean?

“Validated” means the assessment has undergone testing for validity, which finds that:  There is a clear and demonstrable link between what the test measures and what the job requires.  The assessment measures what its developers say it will measure.

It will not adversely impact individuals in any group (e.g. women, Asians, etc.) for a particular job.  If these conditions are not met and verified through independent testing, guess what? You’re at risk, even if you have a third-party administer the assessments. Always check that the tests are validated – and demand proof.

Go Validated or Go Home

Last year, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) took on top DC technological service provider, MC Dean. The OFCCP alleged that the federal contractor failed to provide equal employment opportunities to black, Hispanic, and Asian workers who applied. At the core of the case was the use of invalid hiring assessments.

MC Dean settled the suit to the tune of $875,000. As part of the agreement, they had to extend job offers to 39 individuals. Now, hopefully, there are more than a few great candidates among those 39, but hey, way to lose control of your hiring process.

If you have more than 50 employees and the OFCCP receives a complaint about unfair hiring practices, they will come into your business, and they will open up a Pandora’s Box. They’ll audit your records, and they will find the i’s that are not dotted and the t’s that are not crossed.

If you don’t want a governmental body digging through your records and disturbing your operations, then you’d better have your hiring process buttoned up – and you’d better make sure everything is documented.

Levelling the Playing Field

Setting aside the legal side of assessments for a minute, what about the human side? The OFCCP is trying to level the playing field for applicants. When people from all walks of life apply for a job, you don’t want to discriminate against any of them. This is a terrific way to miss out on solid A+ candidates simply because they don’t match up to some (flawed) vision of the “ideal” employee.

Hey, You Know What Would Help? A Benchmark

If you’re not benchmarking, start. When the OFCCP or whoever is mining your records, benchmarks prove that you hire without bias. The ideal candidate for Job X has this skill, that skill, and this other skill. Period. Candidate A has these. Candidate B does not. There you go. You’re not discriminating against a group: you’re choosing the best possible candidates and making a conscious hiring decision. Failing to use validated assessment is a losing proposition no matter how you look at it. When agencies like the OFCCP get involved, it’s guaranteed to be a long, drawn-out, and expensive process. And even if, for whatever reason, they don’t get involved, you’re disregarding people who could potentially contribute to your organization and its goals. Bad move. How about you make another, smarter, one?

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