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Medical Exams and Inquiries

ADA and Rehabilitation Act information related to Medical Exams and Inquiries

Introduction

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits an employer's ability to make disability-related inquiries or to require medical exams at three stages of employment: pre-job offer, post-job offer, and during employment. The following discusses when employers can ask disability-related questions or require medical exams and provide guidance regarding the scope of medical inquiries and exams.

GENERAL RULES

The following are the general rules for each stage of employment. There are exceptions to these general rules that can be found in the related publications. 

STAGE 1: Job Applicants

General rule: Employers cannot ask medical questions or require medical exams at this stage.

STAGE 2: Job Offer Made, Hasn’t Started Working

General rule: Employers can ask any medical questions or require any medical exams they choose as long as all entering employees in the same job category are subjected to the same questions or exams, regardless of disability and the medical information obtained is kept confidential. Medical questions and examinations do not have to be job related and consistent with business necessity at the post-offer, preemployment stage.

STAGE 3: Employees

General rule: Disability-related inquiries and examinations of employees must be "job-related and consistent with business necessity.” A medical inquiry or examination is job-related and consistent with business necessity when:

1. an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that an employee's ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by a medical condition, or

2. an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that an employee will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition, or

3. an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation and the employee's disability or need for accommodation is not known or obvious, or

4. required in positions that affect public safety, such as police and fire fighters.