Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth L. Shoenfelt (Director), Reagan D. Brown, Amber N. Schroeder

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Organizations that employ physically demanding jobs want to ensure their selection procedures distinguish qualified applicants from unqualified applicants. However, such selection tools typically result in adverse impact against various protected groups and often lead to litigation. Various factors influence the court’s decision to rule in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. The purpose of the present study is to identify those factors. The ADA (1990) created strict guidelines for plaintiffs and defendants to follow to be credible in a discrimination case. This study will specifically determine the impact of the ADA guidelines and three additional factors that influence court decisions including job analysis and test validation procedures, and whether the job involves public safety. Organizations can benefit from knowing factors they can control to decrease legal liability. Cases filed from 1992 to the present were reviewed and coded based on each factor. Z-tests for proportions were conducted to determine the proportions of rulings in favor of the plaintiff and defendant based on each factor of interest. Public safety influences the court decisions in favor of the defendant, such that for jobs in which public safety is of concern, the court is more likely to rule in favor of the defendant. Additional factors were not significantly influential. However, some trends are apparent and discussed in the paper. Implications and limitations also are discussed.


Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Quantitative Psychology