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Multiple Choice Test in Interviews can Amount to Discrimination

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This article has been submitted by Greenaway Scott

Many of the people reading this will have undergone an interview and potentially testing in a bid to secure a job.

But were you aware that being asked to take part in a multiple-choice test during this process could amount to discrimination?

Here, Greenaway Scott’s Employment Associate, Kirsty Leeke explains why a straight forward approach could be more inclusive.

In the recent case of The Government Legal Service (“GLS”) v Brookes (“B”), B applied for a legal training contract at GLS.

B has Asperger’s Syndrome and informed GLS that she would require reasonable adjustments, namely a short form answer format, to enable her to properly carry out a multiple choice test which formed part of the recruitment process.

GLS refused B’s request and B expressed her concerns about the potentially discriminatory impact of the test.  B took the test and scored 12 out of 22 with the pass mark being 14.  B did not progress any further in the recruitment process.

B subsequently brought claims of indirect discrimination and a failure to make reasonable adjustments against GLS and succeeded with both claims.

The Employment Tribunal (and subsequently the Employment Appeals Tribunal) found that B had been subject to a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (“PCP”) that had put a group of people such as B at a particular disadvantage, when compared with those who did not have Asperger’s Syndrome.

In particular, B was put at a substantial disadvantage.

The Employment Tribunal recommended that GLS should review its psychometric testing procedures for candidates and particularly in relation to job applicants with a disability.

With this in mind here are some key considerations for employers when carrying out a recruitment process to ensure they are not discriminatory.

  • Identify PCPs that are in place.
  • Are you aware of any of the candidates having a disability?
  • Could the PCPs put a candidate with a specific disability at a disadvantage during the recruitment process?
  • If yes, can this PCP be justified? Consider:
    • Was there a legitimate aim?
    • If so, was it proportionate?
  • Remember there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments to assist and accommodate job applicants with a disability. Consider possible reasonable adjustments that could be made.