MSN.COM – A pre-employment physical exam is pretty standard at many companies, especially in a workplace as physical as a warehouse. So why did the EEOC just settle a lawsuit with Dollar General because of their pre-employment physical exam policy?
Because Dollar General asked employees not just about their medical history, but about their family medical histories as well. This violates a little-known law known as GINA — the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that leaders at Dollar General’s Bessemer, Alabama distribution center asked candidates to share information about “past and present medical conditions of family members such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.”
As an employer, you can conduct a pre-employment physical as long as it meets the following conditions:
The physical is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
The physical exam is done after the offer. You cannot require a physical as part of the application process.
All applicants for the same position receive the exam. (That is, you cannot say, “This candidate is 60; we better do an exam. But this 22-year-old should be fine.”)
You can’t ask an employee about their family medical history because that requires them to divulge genetic information. You cannot deny someone a job because they have an elevated risk of cancer, for instance. There is no reason for an employer to need this information.
When you should require a pre-employment physical
Ensuring your employees can physically carry out a job like a warehouse position makes sense. If a medical exam determines a candidate cannot lift the required weight, for instance, even with a reasonable accommodation, you can rescind the offer.
However, many companies want to do pre-employment physical exams to limit the company’s liability. If an employee has a pre-existing condition that the doctor notes in the pre-employment exam, then the employee can’t turn around and claim the job caused the issue …