New York City Employment Defense Law Firm

Americans with Disabilities Act: Employment Questions and Medical Tests

For employers, there is a long list of questions the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits you from asking, but you may start wondering what types of questions are allowable.

It is important to train your hiring managers and other personnel so they know the parameters of what to ask and what not to ask applicants and employees.

Examples of ADA Questions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers clarification of the ADA and gives the following as examples of allowed questions:

“Asking generally about an employee’s well being (e.g., How are you?), asking an employee who looks tired or ill if s/he is feeling okay, asking an employee who is sneezing or coughing whether s/he has a cold or allergies, or asking how an employee is doing following the death of a loved one or the end of a marriage/relationship

  • Asking an employee about non-disability-related impairments (e.g., How did you break your leg?)
  • Asking an employee whether s/he can perform job functions
  • Asking an employee whether s/he has been drinking
  • Asking an employee about his/her current illegal use of drugs
  • Asking a pregnant employee how she is feeling or when her baby is due
  • Asking an employee to provide the name and telephone number of a person to contact in case of a medical emergency”

Medical Examinations Explained

Employers violate the ADA when they require an employee to undergo a medical examination as terms for employment as part of a pre-offer, post-offer or after employment. Examples of medical examinations include tests for all types of physical abilities, such as vision, disease, genetic markers, blood pressure, range-of-motion, pulmonary function and mental state. All scans including x-rays, CAT and MRI are medical examinations.

Procedures that do not violate the ADA and that employers can require include:

  • Tests to detect illegal drug use
  • Physical agility tests to measure performance such as running or lifting
  • Tests to determine the ability to read labels or distinguish objects necessary for job function
  • Polygraph tests

Stephen Hans & Associates can help you put policies in place that protect your rights as employers and adhere to employment laws.


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