ADA Blog


ADA Blog #130 (Part 1 of 2)

I thought everyone already knew that the #ADA limits an employer’s ability to make #disability-related inquiries or to require #medicalexaminations at the pre- and post-offer stages. But, perhaps you don’t understand why this provision was included in the first place.

This is because, many employers asked applicants and employees to provide information about their physical and/or mental condition and used this information to exclude and otherwise discriminate against #individualswithdisabilities -- particularly #nonvisibledisabilities, such as #diabetes, #epilepsy, #heart disease, #cancer, and #mental illness -- despite their ability to perform the job. The EEOC guidance makes clear that:

“...the #ADA's restrictions on inquiries and examinations apply to all employees, not just those with disabilities. Unlike other provisions of the #ADA which are limited to qualified individuals with disabilities, the use of the term "employee" reflects Congress's intent to cover a broader class of individuals and to prevent employers from asking questions and conducting medical examinations that serve no legitimate purpose. Requiring an individual to show that s/he is a person with a #disability in order to challenge a #disability-related inquiry or #medical examination would defeat this purpose. Any employee, therefore, has a right to challenge a #disability-related inquiry or #medical examination that is not #job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

In its complaint against Baltimore County, Md., the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ) alleged that the county violated the #ADA by requiring employees to submit to #medical examinations and #disability-related inquiries without a proper reason. The county also and excluded applicants from emergency medical technician (EMT) positions because of their #diabetes.

The complaint identifies 10 current and former #police officers, #firefighters, #EMTs, #civilian employees and #applicants who were allegedly subjected to inappropriate and intrusive medical examinations and/or other #disability-based #discrimination. Some employees were allegedly required to undergo medical examinations or respond to medical inquiries that were unrelated to their ability to perform the functions of their jobs. The complaint also alleges that the county required employees to submit to medical examinations that were improperly timed, such as requiring an employee who was on medical leave and undergoing medical treatment to submit to a medical exam even though the employee was not attempting to return to work yet.

According to the complaint, numerous affected employees – some of whom had worked for the county for decades – submitted to the improper medical exams for fear of discipline or #termination if they refused. The complaint also alleges that the county #retaliated against an employee who tried to caution against the #unlawfulmedicalexams. Additionally, the complaint alleges that the county refused to hire two #qualifiedapplicants for EMT positions because they had #diabetes.

“The result of the county’s discriminatory policies and practices was to force employees, including veteran #police officers and #firefighters, to submit to invasive and unjustified medical examinations and inquiries,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The #ADA does not tolerate this type of conduct and neither does the Justice Department.”

What do you think is the end result? Read tomorrow’s blog to find out!


This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.