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Multiple Choice Test in Interviews can Amount to Discrimination


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.