Employer Medical Release Too Broad

Earlier this week, the EEOC sued an employer for firing an employee who refused to complete an over broad medical release and because the release requested information about the employee’s family medical history.

The employee was asked to complete the release in connection with a “fitness for duty” examination.  According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the release required that the employee agree to the disclosure of “all information concerning medical care, advice, treatment, or supplies provided to me,” and “all information related to or forming the basis of any medical, mental health and/or substance abuse evaluation, recommendations and/or determinations.”  The employee was also asked to provide information regarding his family history involving psychiatric, chemical dependency, suicide, and major medical issues. When the employee refused to provide the requested information, he was fired.

The EEOC did not challenge the employer’s right to request and/or require a fitness for duty examination.  However, the lawsuit alleged that the over broad medical questions violated the ADA’s rules against making disability-related inquiries and the questions about family medical history violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.  Employers can ask questions about an employee’s medical history if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.  However, except in very limited circumstances, employers do not need to know about employee family history or other genetic background.  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/9-9-14.cfm

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