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Equal Rights Center: Advancing Civil Rights for Over a Quarter Century

Become a Tester - FAQ

 

Testers are objective individuals who pose as prospective renters, home buyers, job applicants, loan applicants, and more.  Testers take on various roles for the purpose of gathering information to ensure that individuals or companies are complying with the law and to identify unlawful discrimination.

To help you decide if you would like to become a tester please read the following frequently asked questions.

Testers are objective individuals who pose as prospective renters, home buyers, job applicants, loan applicants, and more.  Testers take on various roles for the purpose of gathering information to ensure that individuals or companies are complying with the law and to identify unlawful discrimination.

To help you decide if you would like to become a tester please read the following frequently asked questions.

What is testing? 

Testing is a controlled process designed to identify differences in treatment accorded to individuals who are similar in every significant respect except the variable being tested (i.e. race, disability, national origin, etc.). Testing allows us to measure and document differences in the quality, content, and quantity of information and services. It is a legal process by which the nature and extent of illegal discrimination can be ascertained. This process can also be referred to as "auditors" or "secret shoppers."

What exactly will I be doing when I perform a test?

It depends on the type of test that you are doing.  In all tests you will take on characteristics of an assigned profile, which may differ from who you actually are.  For example, in housing testing, you may be asked to go and view an apartment or apartments at a particular housing provider.  After your experience we will ask you to write a factual, detailed, and objective account of what transpired on your test.  In ADA testing we may ask you to survey a business to ensure that persons with disabilities can access the store and all of its amenities.  In employment testing you may be asked to go on an interview with a particular employer.  No matter what type of test you are performing, the ERC will properly train and prepare you for the assignment. 

How many tests will I perform? How often?

Testing is performed on an as needed basis.  The frequency depends on what testing projects the ERC has occurring and what our needs are.  The ERC makes no guarantee of you receiving assignments.

Are Testers Employees?

No, testers are independent contractors.  We will issue a 1099-MISC form for any tester who earns over $600 in a calendar year.  You are responsible for paying any appropriate due taxes.  The ERC makes no guarantee of you receiving assignments and extends no health benefits. 

What is the time commitment?

Each test will vary.  Time can range from less than an hour to several hours. There is no set time.  Accepting test assignment is on a voluntary basis.  However, if you accept a test assignment it is crucial that you have time available to complete the test from start to finish.  Since the time required to complete each test varies, you should ask the test coordinator how long they can reasonably expect the test to be completed. 

The ERC makes no guarantee of you receiving assignments.  At times, there is substantial work for testers to perform. Testers availability, willingness to travel to certain locations at certain times, and timely completion of report forms and narrative accounts are all factors in the agency’s ability to provide assignments.

Will I get paid for attending a tester training?

Testers will be paid for the training session upon successful completion of a practice test and debriefing with the Testing Manager.  The practice test must be completed within 5-7 days after the tester training.  The number of days to complete the practice test depends on the type of training.      

If I complete the tester training, am I a tester?

After completing a practice test prospective testers are evaluated, and based on performance a decision is made. 

Will I get paid for my work?

Testers will be paid a fee for each test that they complete ranging from $20-$150 per test, plus approved expenses.  The stipend varies depending on the type of test.  For example, the stipend for an in-person rental test will be paid at a flat rate of $60.  Specific testing rates will be established prior to you accepting and completing any assignment.  The length of time it takes to complete a test assignment varies per test type.

Will I be reimbursed for my expenses?

The ERC will reimburse testers for mileage at the federally approve rate (currently, $.55 per mile).  Mileage will be calculated using an online mapping tool such as Mapquest or Google maps.  Public transportation (bus or train only) will be reimbursed at actual cost, with appropriate receipts.  Any other type of transport or travel cost must be pre-authorized by an ERC staff member. 

The ERC generally will not reimburse testers for travel time.  Travel adjustments may be made on a project by project basis. 

Testers will not be reimbursed for time spent traveling to and from the ERC for any purpose.

Do I need a car?

No, you don’t need a car but it is beneficial to receiving assignments.  Public transportation can be used for many of the tests.  A rental car or taxi may be required to do a test not reachable via public transport.  This must be approved by the ERC before the test is assigned.  When this occurs, you will be reimbursed for this expense.

Do I need to own a personal computer?

No, you don’t need to own a personal computer.  You must have access to one though.  We email many of our assignments and due to time constraints you will need to have easy access to a computer. 

Applicants who participate in our remote, web-based training must have access to a computer, an internet connection, and a phone line so that they can watch the web-based training while simultaneously listening to training commentary over the phone.  For confidentiality purposes, participants may not watch the web-based training in a place where the training may be observed or overheard by others.

Do I need to type my narratives?

Yes, narratives and test reports must be typed. 

Do I need an email address?

Yes, you will need a valid email address.  Agents will sometimes want to contact you via email and you must have a valid email address.

Do I need a home address?

Yes, you will need a valid home mailing address.  Agents will sometimes want to contact you via postal mail and you must have a valid mailing address.  A P.O. Box is sufficient.

How often do you hold tester trainings?

Tester Trainings are held a few times each month or on an as needed basis.  They are typically held on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday during the day or evening, and select weekends.  You will be notified if you are selected to participate in a tester training.  Please be patient, as there will be times when a tester training may not be held for an indefinite period. 

Why are you asking my race, disability, national origin, etc.?

Investigations are conducted based on various protected categories such as race, disability, national origin, familial status, and more.  We need your demographic information to properly match you for each specific test. Your information is kept in the strictest of confidence.

Do I need a credit card?

No, but it will be helpful if you have one.  Most tests will not require a credit card but there may be cases where a tester will have to have a credit card to perform the test.  This will be discussed before the test is assigned.

Is this legal?

Yes, testing is legal and is used by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to investigate allegations of illegal discrimination.  The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of testers and has referred to testing as a reliable method to identify practices of unlawful discrimination. 

When was the ERC founded?

The ERC was founded in 1983 as the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington.  In 1999, the FHC merged with the Fair Employment Council of Greater Washington and changed its name to the ERC.  Finally, in 2005 the Disability Rights Council merged with the ERC.

 

For more information and if you are interested in becoming a tester, please contact our Testing Program Coordinator, Sarah Pauly at spauly@equalrightscenter.org or 202-370-3225.

 

 

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