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Americans with Disabilities Act: Examples of What Is/Is Not a Medical Examination

March 14, 2008

Americans with Disabilities Act

Examples of What Is/Is Not a Medical Examination

Example 1. An employer requires applicants to lift a 30-pound box and carry it 20 feet. This is not a medical examination; it is just a test of whether the applicant can perform this task. But, if the employer takes the applicant’s blood pressure or heart rate after the lifting and carrying, the test would be a medical examination because it is measuring the applicant’s physiological response to lifting and carrying, as opposed to the applicant’s ability to lift and carry.

Example 2. A psychological test is designed to reveal mental illness, but a particular employer says it does not give the test to disclose mental illness (for example, the employer says it uses the test to disclose just tastes and habits). But, the test also is interpreted by a psychologist, and is routinely used in a clinical setting to provide evidence that would lead to a diagnosis of a mental disorder or impairment (for example, whether an applicant has paranoid tendencies, or is depressed). Under these facts, this test is a medical examination.

Example 3. An employer may require applicants to take physical agility tests. A physical agility test, in which an applicant demonstrates the ability to perform actual or simulated job tasks, is not a medical examination under the ADA. Thus, if a police department tests officer applicants’ ability to run through an obstacle course designed to simulate a suspect chase in an urban setting, the test is not a medical examination.

Example 4. A messenger service tests applicants’ ability to run one mile in 15 minutes. At the end of the run, the employer takes the applicants’ blood pressure and heart rate. Measuring the applicants’ physiological responses makes this a medical examination.

Example 5. An employer may ask an applicant to provide medical certification that one can safely perform a physical agility or physical fitness test. Although an employer cannot ask disability-related questions, it may give the applicant a description of the agility or fitness test and ask the applicant to have a private physician simply state whether one can safely perform the test.

Information courtesy of What Every Business Manager and HR Professional Should Know About Federal Labor and Employment Laws

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