- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued Consolidated Edison Inc., a New York utility company, alleging that it required applicants to undergo medical examinations before they had received a job offer and also requested genetic information as a condition of employment. These actions violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), the commission said in its suit.
- EEOC also has alleged that Con Edison failed to hire some applicants after their pre-employment medical exams because of actual or perceived disabilities, in violation of the ADA.
- The suit also contains other ADA allegations, including one claim that it unnecessarily transferred a worker with a disability to a less-desirable position.
EEOC says that federal law prohibits employers from subjecting job applicants to medical exams until they've been given a conditional employment offer.
And even then, the ADA prohibits employers from requesting info that's irrelevant to the employees job. Specifically, any exams and questions at that stage must be "job-related and consistent with business necessity," the commission explains in its Enforcement Guidance: Disability-related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act. GINA is even stricter.
Employers also must ensure that workers with disabilities are not subject to adverse employment actions because of their impairments. Transfers, for example, can certainly be an accommodation under the law but the EEOC favors accommodations that keep workers in their jobs. And in this suit, the commission says the employee could still perform the essential functions of his original position. If that's the case, the more appropriate accommodation would likely be removing the marginal function the employee cannot perform. Possibly most importantly, the ADA favors an informal, interactive accommodation process, which includes input from the employee.