- A Honda dealer in Louisiana agreed to pay $100,000 to settle U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the agency announced Jan. 6.
- The dealer hired a salesperson who disclosed her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which she was treating with medication. EEOC said an operations manager told the worker to stop taking her medication and ordered her to take a drug test.
- But before the drug test came back, the dealership fired the worker, EEOC said. The agency sued and claimed the employer subjected the worker to unlawful inquiries and an unlawful medical examination — all in violation of the ADA.
Employers may sometimes ask applicants and employees about their disabilities. They're also able to require medical exams. But those two prerogatives come with major caveats that employers must heed — or else they risk serious legal trouble.
"The decision to subject an employee to a disability-related inquiry or medical examination must be made based on evidence, rather than assumption," Andrew Kingsley, EEOC senior trial attorney, said in the announcement about Honda's settlement. "When making such a decision, an employer should seek guidance to ensure it is complying with the law."
In 2000, EEOC released a guidance detailing the circumstances under which employers can make disability-related inquiries or require medical exams. The agency identified a few key principles to help employers understand the basics.
The ADA prohibits all inquiries and examinations, even if they are job related, prior to an offer of employment. Employers can make inquiries and request exams once they've made a conditional job offer, regardless of job relatedness. But the questions and requests must be given to all entering employees in that category, EEOC said. Once employees have begun work, employers can still make disability-related inquiries and require medical examinations, but only if they are job-related and consistent with business needs.