Employment Personality Tests

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Many employers are moving to non-traditional methods for selecting and hiring new employees or for assisting with employee retention. One type of non-traditional method is the use of personality tests either during the hiring process or randomly after hiring. Whether an employer can force an employee or prospective employee to take a personality test as a condition of employment is tricky. This covers an area of employment law that as of yet has not been thoroughly discussed in the court system.

Employee Rights and Personality Tests

As of the date of this FAQ, there is very little case law available in which an individual has directly challenged a personality test issued by an employer. However, it is believed by many in the legal profession that the courts will be more likely to uphold the right of employers to administer and require these personality tests IF the tests are closely aligned to skills and behaviors that are necessary for successful job performance.

It is important to note, however, that any and all personality tests that are issued must always be in compliance with anti-discrimination laws. This means that the test can neither overtly discriminate against anyone on the basis of his or her protected status, nor can the test have a disparate impact on any protected group.

Protected groups under the law include groups based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and/or disability, among others. If the test violates the rights of any of these groups, then the test will not be legally permitted unless the test is deemed to have a legitimate and bona fide occupational connection. This can be a difficult test for employers to pass due to the level of scrutiny involved.

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