Prohibited Medical Inquiries – Again

Under the ADA, medical inquiries directed at existing employees are permitted when they are job related and consistent with business necessity.  As explained by the EEOC, a disability-related inquiry or medical examination may be job-related and consistent with business necessity when an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that: (1) an employee’s ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by a medical condition; or (2) an employee will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition.

Earlier this week, an employer was ordered to pay more than $475,000, which included $202,287 in punitive damages, to a group of former truck drivers because the employer’s medical clearance policy was found to violate the ADA.  The policy in question required drivers to notify the employer whenever they had any contact with a medical professional, including a routine physical.  The employer had been ordered to limit medical inquiries of employees back in 2012, but apparently chose to ignore the court’s prior directions.

There are certainly circumstances when an employer may have a reasonable belief that an employee has a disability or a medical condition that may be impacting the employee’s ability to do their job or poses a direct threat, and substantiates an employer’s medical inquiry.  However, a blanket policy that requires disclosure of any medical treatment for any condition will not pass muster under the ADA.


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