Pre-employment medical exams: A new way to discriminate?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2013 | Workplace Discrimination

Although the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act was introduced into law in 2006, it has recently resurfaced into the public eye. The law was designed to protect potential employees from an invasion of medical privacy; however the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently announced that two separate companies have been slapped with lawsuits claiming they conducted pre-employment medical exams that were illegal.

The commission filed and subsequently settled its first class-action lawsuit, claiming job applicants were required to fill out comprehensive medical questionnaires that were a violation of employment law. Employers may not discriminate against job applicants due to genetic diseases, and employers are not allowed to utilize genetic information in making hiring decisions.

In one case, a company made an offer of employment to an applicant contingent upon passing a drug test and medical screening. After the job applicant filled out a lengthy form disclosing details of family medical history, the offer was rescinded.

Pre-employment medical exams violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects job-based decisions due to medical conditions or disabilities. They also violate the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act. If an applicant is rejected based on a disability, the employer may be asked to show proof an integral part of the job has not been met; or that the hiring of such an individual poses a potential danger to others in the workplace. In addition, the hiring process must commit to making a reasonable effort to accommodate a disabled person.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of discrimination during a medical exam prior to employment, it is recommended that you file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Depending on your state of residence, subsequent deadlines coincide with necessary steps to take in order to file a lawsuit. You should seek legal advice from a legal expert in workplace discrimination prior to filing a lawsuit or complaint so you can be assured your rights are protected, and you follow the correct steps to file the paper work.

Source:, “Pre-Employment Medical Exams: A New, Scary Kind Of Discrimination” Donna Ballman, Jun. 11, 2013

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