The Technical Assistance Manual on the Employment Provisions (Title 1) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which became law in 1990, provides clear guidelines to employers regarding the use of medical examinations and non-discriminatory hiring practices of new employees. But what do the EEOC and ADA say about the use of medical examinations with current, existing employees?
The EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance: Disability Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the American’s with Disabilities Act (2000) provides employers guidance around the use of medical examinations post-employment. The EEOC states that medical examinations of existing employees must be “job-related and consistent with business necessity”.1
According to the Enforcement Guidance referenced above, job-related and consistent with business necessity essentially mean that the employer must have a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that:
- an employee will be unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job because of a medical condition; or,
- the employee will pose a direct threat because of a medical condition.1
The Enforcement Guidance goes on to discuss various situations for when a post-employment medical examination may be utilized. One situation involves an employee returning to work after a medical leave. In this case, the employer may request that the employee submit to a medical examination limited in scope to the medical issue for which they were on leave. However, the employer’s objective must be to ensure that the employee is able to safely perform the essential job functions and there is no direct threat due to a current medical issue.
Other uses for post-employment medical examinations also exist and are clearly outlined in the EEOC Enforcement Guidance (2000). It is incumbent on the employer to understand these federal guidelines, as well as guideline applications in their respective workplaces, as they relate to post-employment medical examinations.
1EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Disability Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (2000), Job-Related and Consistent with Business Necessity, Section A - 5
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