Development EEO and Affirmative Action
The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination with respect to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. As a result, training and development activities must be conducted in such a way that they do not discriminate against protected classes. When being admitted to or passing a training program is a condition of employment or promotion, for example, the HR department must be able to show that the training requirements are related to job success. If the training or development activities are not validated, the employer may be
charged with violating the act.
The training or development program itself may have a discriminatory impact if barriers to training are not related to subsequent job success. For example, women had significant difficulty passing the training for outside craft positions at AT&T subsidiaries. Part of the problem was that some of the training equipment had been designed for the larger feet of men, thus causing a disproportionate number of women and smaller men to fail the course. Another problem may occur when scores on parts of the training program are used for future
placement decisions. Under these circumstances, the burden falls on the HR department to show that the scores are valid. In Weber v. Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that affirmative action may require a disproportionately high number of minorities to be admitted to training programs. If this form of "reverse discrimination" is meant to of an affirmative action plan, the courts consider it legal.