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EEOC finds workplace discrimination in pre-employment physicals

Michigan residents may be interested in a recent lawsuit that will be the first to test the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, a 2009 act designed to curb discrimination in pre-employment medical examinations. Although employers may require job candidates to pass a drug test and physical examination before being hired, it is unlawful for an employer to ask for a family medical history. Nevertheless, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission officials say that's what happened in two recent cases of this new type of workplace discrimination.

Although people visiting a doctor commonly fill out a family medical history form, it is illegal for an employer to seek such information. However, that was not the only violation of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act in a recently settled case. The company rescinded the job offer because it thought the medical exam indicated carpal tunnel syndrome, despite the doctor saying the woman did not have that disability. Not hiring a disabled person violates the Americans with Disabilities Act if an employer can accommodate those conditions, and the person can perform the job duties.

The EEOC brought a class-action suit against a company that required family medical histories for both pre-employment and annual medical examinations. In that suit, the employer also discriminated in several other ways. It refused to accommodate an employee's disability during their probationary period; fired two employees with 'perceived" disabilities; and fired or failed to hire three women because of pregnancy.

Employers might discriminate in other ways. If a medical examination reveals protected categories of information such as age, race, religion or national origin, an employer could be discriminating if it then rescinds a job offer. The law allows someone who suffers employment discrimination to sue for damages. An employment discrimination lawyer can represent a victim of discrimination in the lawsuit along with filing the required complaint with the EEOC.

Source: AOL Jobs, "Pre-Employment Medical Exams: A New, Scary Kind Of Discrimination", Donna Ballman, June 11, 2013