Judges' Benchbook
Second Edition - May 1992




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I. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles

II. Specific vocational preparation

I. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles

A. Overview

One of the measures by which a job requirement is tested to determine whether it is unduly restrictive

  • See § 656.21(b)(2)(i)(B).

  • See also Chapter 32, III (Unduly Restrictive Job Requirements).

is inclusion of the requirement in the definition for the job in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).

  • United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Dictionary of Occupational Titles (4th Ed. rev. 1991).

Requirements for a position that are defined for the job by the DOT are not unduly restrictive.

  • Chapter 32, III, A, 2 (Unduly Restrictive Job Requirements).

The DOT was developed in the mid-1930's by the U.S. Employment Service to supply standardized occupational information to support job placement activities. It is now also used for employment counseling, occupational and career guidance, and labor market information.

  • Dictionary of Occupational Titles at xv.

DOT definitions are organized by occupational code numbers,

  • Dictionary of Occupational Titles at xvii.

and include a task element statement describing worker actions; the purpose or objective of these actions; machines, tools, equipment, or work aids used; materials processed, products made, subject matter dealt with, or service rendered; the nature and complexity of instructions followed; and the job tasks actually performed by the worker.

  • Dictionary of Occupational Titles at xxv.

B. Classifying job duties under the DOT

The DOT is merely a guideline and should not be applied mechanically. Promex Corporation , 89-INA-331 (Sept. 12, 1990).

  • See , e.g. , Mr. & Mrs. Mohammad Rezk , 89-INA-333 (Sept. 12, 1990) in which the requirement that a child monitor "instruct in health habits" was found not to be unduly restrictive even though it was not stated in the DOT. The description of duties set forth in the DOT does not have to be cited verbatim, as the DOT should be considered in context rather than simply applied mechanically.

The DOT is not to be applied in a pigeonhole fashion where there must be a complete matching of duties between the job offered and the DOT classification in order for a job to be appropriately classified. Merely because the duties of the job offered require some, but not all, of the duties included in a particular DOT classification does not nullify the applicability of that classification. Trilectron Industries, Inc. , 90-INA-188 (Dec. 19, 1991); Trilectron Industries, Inc. , 90-INA-176 (Dec. 19, 1991).

II. Specific vocational preparation

A. Overview

DOT definitions include a rating for specific vocational preparation (SVP).

  • The 1991 revision of the DOT appended an SVP rating to each job profile.

  • Dictionary of Occupational Titles at 1003. Previously a separate publication, Selected Characteristics of Occupations Defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles , had to be consulted to determine the SVP for a particular occupation.

SVP is the amount of lapsed time required by a typical worker to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the facility needed for average performance in a specific job-worker situation. It includes vocational education, apprenticeship training, in-plant training, on-the-job training, and essential experience in other jobs.

Dictionary of Occupational Titles at 1009.

The SVP rating is a numerical rating. The following chart explains those ratings:

Level Time

1 Short Demonstration only
2 Anything beyond sort demonstration up to and including 1 month
3 Over 1 month up to and including 3 months
4 Over 3 months up to and including 6 months
5 Over 6 months up to and including 1 year
6 Over 1 year up to and including 2 years
7 Over 2 years up to and including 4 years
8 Over 4 years up to and including 10 years
9 Over 10 years

Dictionary of Occupational Titles at 1009.

B. Requirements that exceed the SVP

If the employer's experience or educational requirement falls within the SVP, it is not unduly restrictive and business necessity for the requirement does not need to be established.

  • Manuel Reyes , 89-INA-22 (Nov. 28, 1989); Kamal Farah , 89-INA-5 (Oct. 13, 1989).

  • Where the employer required two to three years of experience for a job as an auto mechanic (which was within the DOT guideline of two to four years), a U.S. applicant who had less than four years in auto mechanical vocational training, and no other experience, could properly be rejected. A-Transmission Discount , 88-INA-118 (Mar. 27, 1990).

  • In regard to unduly restrictive requirements and business necessity generally, see Chapter 32.

Where, however, an education or experience requirement exceeds the SVP standard, the requirement may be unduly restrictive and a showing of business necessity is required.

  • Transgroup Services, Inc. , 88-INA-428 (Feb. 21, 1990) (remanded, however, because CO's interpretation of the SVP had prevented the employer from curing the defect); Bantam Collections Inc. , 88-INA-519 (Oct. 27, 1989) (citing Information Industries , 88-INA-82 (Feb. 9, 1989) ( en banc )).

  • In Approach, Inc. , 90-INA-293 (Oct. 30, 1991), the employer required two years of education plus two years of experience in the job held. According to the SVP guidelines, this was deemed equivalent to three years of job preparation for the position of bilingual secretary, but the SVP for the job indicated only two years at most were necessary. Certification was denied.

C. Top end of SVP range may be required

An employer may require the top end of an SVP range. For example, in Transgroup Services, Inc. , 88-INA-428 (Feb. 21, 1990), the panel apparently concluded that the employer's requirement of one year of experience as a "Formal Waiter" was unduly restrictive because there was nothing about the employer or the job to justify more than the thirty days to three months stated by the DOT. Nevertheless, the case was remanded for new recruitment with an experience requirement of three months because the CO had mistakenly found that thirty days was the maximum experience that could be required, which had prevented the employer from curing the defect.

D. Weight of evidence

The mere assertion that the stated requirements exceed the SVP guidelines is insufficient to establish business necessity. Approach, Inc. , 90-INA-293 (Oct. 30, 1991).

E. Evaluation of college degree in regard to training time

In Garland Community Hospital , 89-INA-217 (June 20, 1991), the employer required a Bachelor's degree in data processing or a related field plus one year of experience in the job offered (Systems Analyst). The CO found that requirement was unduly restrictive because the SVP for a Systems Analyst is at level 7, which establishes an educational/experience requirement of two to four years, and the employer was requiring a four-year degree plus one year of experience. The panel consulted the Handbook for Analyzing Jobs (1972), in determining that the employer's requirement was within the SVP. Citing the Handbook at 20 n. 1, the panel indicated that when evaluating training time, the average four-year college curriculum (except for liberal arts) is considered the equivalent of about two years of specific vocational preparation.