The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit an employer from requiring a medical examination of an employee unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity. So what does that mean?

Some examples of when these criteria are met are as follows:

  • the employee requested an accommodation
  • the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job is impaired
  • the employee poses a direct threat to himself or others

That tells a little bit more but let us delve further into when a medical examination can be required because the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job is or at least appears to be impaired. Here are some further examples applicable to circumstances where the employer would claim that the employee cannot perform the essential functions of their job:

  • The individual who decides to require a medical examination must have a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the employee's behavior threatens a vital function of the business.
  • An employer may request a medical examination when there is significant evidence that could cause a reasonable person to inquire as to whether the employee is still capable of performing her job.
  • The employee's behavior cannot be merely annoying or inefficient to justify an exam; rather, there must be a genuine reason to doubt whether the employee can perform job-related functions.
  • A genuine reason may arise when employees "aberrant behavior" raises the concern that an employee's mental or emotional instability could undermine her ability to complete her job functions effectively in the employer's work environment.

As can be seen from the above, the circumstances in which an employer can require an employee to submit to a medical examination consistent with the ADA are not clear-cut. They will vary from employee to employee and from workplace to workplace.

Lexington, Kentucky ADA discrimination lawyer Robert Abell represents individuals and employees in cases under the ADA; contact him at 859-254-7076. 

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