Pre-employment physical exams can be a tremendous asset, lowering your workers comp insurance rates. Unfortunately they can also be an equally magnificent legal headache, depending on the context in which they’re used.
Are you curling your toes over the edge of a dangerous cliff?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects the disabled from discrimination in employment, additionally prohibiting discrimination with respect to hiring, promotion, and termination. How does this translate to pre-employment physicals?
Pre-employment exams (and disability-related questions) may only be conducted AFTER a conditional job offer has been given. Before this time, you may only ask applicants if they can satisfy physical job requirements (lifting, machinery operation, etc.).
Fair is fair
Conducting physically examinations legally, without infringing on employees’ rights, also means you must enforce this policy across the board, requiring examinations of all employees in the same job category.
If you rescind the offer post-examination, reasoning must be both “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Applicants can also be rejected if it’s been established they pose a direct threat of substantial harm to themselves or others, and that “the risk for such harm cannot be reduced through reasonable accommodation.”
The devil in the details
The ADA is very situation specific, so it’s also essential to understand how case law applies to your situation: If the job offer was real, what tests constitute a medical exam, and if the position could be performed by the disabled person provided reasonable accommodation.
Have attempts at lowering your workers comp insurance rates landed you in hot water? Minnesota Comp Advisor can put you back on the right track. Contact us today.