Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are limited in when may require a medical exam. According to the ADA, any test or procedure that is intended to gather information about the health and physical or mental impairments of an applicant or employee is considered a medical exam. For example, a psychological test that is intended to determine whether a person has a mental disorder will be considered a medical exam. By contrast, a psychological test that only measures a person’s personality traits, such as honesty, will likely not be deemed a medical exam. 

How Can I Tell Whether Something Is a Medical Exam?

Determining whether or not a test or procedure is a medical exam can be very difficult.  Below are a a handful factors that are are used in considering whether something qualifies as a medical exam:

  • Is the employer seeing information about physical and mental abilities or impairments?
  • Does the test measure one’s ability to perform or one’s response to performing?
  • Is the test or procedure normally given in a medical setting?
  • Is the test or procedure normally administered by a medical professional?
  • Does the test or procedure require the use of medical equipment?
  • Does a health care professional interpret the results of the test?
  • Is the test invasive?

Some combination of factors will usually be required in order for a test or procedure to be a medical exam.  For example, just because a psychologist interprets the results of a psychological exam does not automatically qualify the test as a medical exam. 

What Are Some Common Examples of Tests That Aren’t Medical Exams?

Many tests and procedures are not medical exams. Some clear examples include the following:

  • Strength and agility tests: These tests are not medical exams so long as they are used to test a person’s abilities. However, if these tests are used to test a person’s physiological responses, then they are medical exams.
  • Drug tests: While drug tests do meet the ADA standards for what constitutes of medical exam, Congress has specifically excluded drug tests from being medical exams.

What Are Tests That Are Usually Considered Medical Exams?

Some tests that are commonly held to be medical exams include:

  • Vision and hearing tests:  Assessments of hearing or vision are considered medical exams. In addition, if a hearing or vision specialist makes an observation as to a person’s hearing or vision abilities, that also qualifies as a medical exam.
  • Psychological exams:  if a psychological exam is given and the exam would likely lead to a diagnosis of a mental disorder or impairment, then the exam counts as a medical exam. By contrast, if the exam only measures personality traits or characteristics, it is not a medical exam.

Do I Need to Have a Disability in Order to Be Protected?

While the ADA generally protects only those with a disability or thoseperceived to have a disability, when it comes to medical exams, the ADA protects everyone. Thus, if an employer unlawfully requires an employee to submit to a medical exam, that employee can likely bring a lawsuit against the employer for discrimination regardless of disability. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Figuring out what is and what isn’t a medical exam is a difficult process. An employment lawyer can help you in making this determination. Additionally, if you feel you have been unlawfully subjected to a medical exam, an attorney can help you file your claim. Similarly, if you are an employer who wants to make sure you don’t require medical exams illegally, an employment discrimination lawyer can advise you accordingly.