Follow-Up to EEOC’s Investigation of FedEx’s Employment Testing

Recently, I posted a story about EEOC investigating FedEx’s use of a test for a number of positions throughout the U.S.

EEOC has apparently raised concerns that this test battery has a disparate impact on minorities.

Since that posting, I have found a site on FedEx’s corporate career site that explains the logic of this testing and provides some sample test questions.

You may find this to be interesting reading, so go here and check out the information FedEx provides as to what the tests consist of and sample questions that reflect the kind of tests used.


  1. The company information says:

    “The employment tests used by FedEx Express were professionally developed for our jobs. Extensive research has shown that performance on these tests is significantly related to job performance.”

    If this is true, does this establish the tests are “job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity,” as required by Title VII (as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991)?

    It shows “job related,” but “business necessity”?

    There could also be a violation if the complaining party demonstrated that an alternative employment practice would have a lesser disparate impact and also serve the company’s legitimate interest, and
    the company refused to adopt such alternative employment practice.

    The company provides a nice description of how tested skills relate to job functions. One that may cause disparate impact, business necessity of which I would perhaps question, is “reading and comprehending at a 12th grade level.”

    Clearly, some reading and comprehending is required, to “learn . . . during formal classroom training and from written training materials” and/or to “keep up-to-date on procedures in printed resources such as Federal Express manuals and publications and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Pocketbook.”

    But is a 12th grade level really necessary? I remember hearing somewhere that most newspapers and magazines aim for no higher than 10th grade level. I ran a readability check on this Blawg (at, and found it was grade level 10.24 on the Gunning Fog Index and grade level 6.6 on the Flesch-Kincaid Index.

    Surely Fedex can target its written materials for couriers, drivers, and service agents to a lower grade level than 12 grade, can’t they?

    This may be precisely where the EEOC is coming from.

  2. You can’t blame the (any) company for wanting to use some sort of discrminator that lets them hire the cream of the crop. On the other hand I agree that it seems a little silly to require package handlers and couriers to be able to parse sentences correctly.

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