Am I required to submit to a medical exam for a job?

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits three forms of “pre-offer” inquiries:

  1. Medical Examinations
  2. Inquiries as to whether the individual considers himself to have a disability
  3. Questions concerning conditions that might disclose a disability such as medications being taken, records of hospitalization, ordisability claims for insurance or workers compensation.

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. 2112(d), these prohibitions apply to all applicants, not just individuals with disabilities.  If you are subject to such discriminatory inquiries and subsequently offered employment, you are unlikely to have suffered monetary damage.  Griffin v. Steeltek, Inc. 261 F.3d 1026 (10th Cir. 2001).  However, if you refuse to respond to such inquiries and are not hired, then it is presumed that your silence or omissions played a role in the rejection.  If you supply false responses during an interview where proscribed questions are asked, you cannot be subsequently terminated for offering false responses.  Downs v. Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority, 13 F.Supp.2d 130 (D.Mass.1998).

If you are an employer, what are you to do?  You are permitted to describe the essential job duties and inquire as to whether the applicant possesses the credentials and ability to perform these duties.  For example, if the job requires lifting of over 40 lbs and standing for up to 8 hours per day, you may ask “can you perform these functions?”  However, there are three conditions that must apply.  All new employees are subject to the examination, results and information are kept confidential, and information is not thereafter used in a manner inconsistent with the ADA.

Are medical examinations outright prohibited?  The answer is no.  Employers may require post employment examinations if the examination focuses on the ability of the employee to perform necessary job functions, such as eye and hearing tests for drivers or pilots or cardiovascular examinations for strenuous or high risk jobs such as police officers or firefighters. 42 U.S.C.A. 12112(d)(4)(B).

An employee who was previously injured or disabled may be subject to a job related physical examination or performance test given for the purpose of determining the employee’s fitness for essential job duties. Porter v. United States Alumoweld Co., 125 F.3d 243 (4th Cir. 1997).

About Roland

Roland was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. The first few years he resided in Paris, France with his mother who was French. In Hendersonville, he attended Beech Senior High School where played soccer and studied in the honors curriculum. Subsequently, he pursued two majors in political science and economics while graduating in three years.

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