The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to comply with certain rules regarding the medical exams of applicants and employees. Should an employer violate these regulations, they may be liable for employment discrimination. There are three stages in the employment process where medical exams can come up: before the job offer, after the job offer but before employment begins, and after employment has begun. Each stage has different rules on whether requiring a medical exam is permissible.
Pre-Job Offer Medical Exams
Under the ADA, if no job offer has been made to the applicant, then the employer cannot require a medical exam from the applicant. Additionally, employers cannot ask applicants if they have a disability. As an applicant, your employer is able to ask you how you would perform the essential job functions, and in some circumstances, if you would need any reasonable accommodations to do so.
However, the employer can only ask these questions if they would ask all new employees the same questions. This means for any questions about the applicant’s ability to perform job-related tasks must be asked to every applicant.
After a Job Offer, but Before Employment Has Begun
At this stage, an employer is able to make a conditional job offer based on the completion of a medical exam, but only if the following criteria is met:
- The employer must require the same medical exam to be given to all applicants or new hires in the job class;
- The employer agrees to keep all records from the exam confidential; and
- The medical exam results cannot be used by the employer to discriminate against people with disabilities.
If a job offer is withdrawn after a medical exam, the employer must be able to prove that the reason for withdrawing the offer was:
- Consistent with the business’ needs; and/or
- The applicant was unable to perform the essential duties of the job, even with reasonable accommodation(s).
While it is possible for the employer to discriminate an employee due to their disability, there are certain requirements that an employee must meet which can limit their ability to sue an employer for disability discrimination.
After Employment Has Begun
After an individual has begun working for the employer, it is the employer’s right to require a medical exam, if it is job-related and a business necessity. For instance, if an employee is asking for a reasonable accommodation, the employer can require a medical exam to identify if this needed.
But, if the employer has a reason to believe that the employee is not able to perform the main aspects of their position or cannot perform them safely, then they are allowed to ask medical questions or require a medical exam.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Medical Exam Issue?
If you have experienced employment discrimination or because of a disability, you should contact an employment lawyer immediately. An experienced employment attorney can help you determine whether your medical exam was unlawful, and can help you plan your best course of action. Employment laws involving the ADA are complex, and having an experienced attorney on your side can prove to be invaluable.