Employers need to ensure that their employees are fit and capable of fulfilling their job duties. Conducting fitness-for-duty exams enables employers to determine if an employee is fit and capable of fulfilling their job duties. However, there are strict rules that employers must adhere to when asking employees to undergo fitness-for-duty exams. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) only allow employers to ask employees to undergo fitness-for-duty exams in limited circumstances. If an employer asks an employee to undergo a fitness-for-duty exam in a situation where they are not allowed to do so, it could constitute disability discrimination or be a violation of the ADA and LAD. Read on to learn when an employer is allowed to ask an employee to undergo a fitness-for-duty exam.
When are Employers Permitted to Ask Employees to Undergo Fitness-for-Duty Exams?
Employers are only allowed to ask employees to undergo fitness-for-duty exams if the exam is work-related and consistent with business necessity. More specifically, and according to an EEOC Guidance, an employer is only allowed to ask an employee to undergo a fitness-for-duty exam if they have a reasonable belief that;
- the employee’s ability to perform an important job duty will be negatively affected by a medical condition, or
- the employee will be a threat to themselves or others due to their medical condition.
If an employer asks you to undergo a fitness-for-duty exam and neither of the two factors exists, that request could constitute disability discrimination or be a violation of the ADA and LAD.
It is crucial to note that an employer’s belief that a medical condition will impair your ability to perform your work or that you will pose a threat to yourself or others due to a medical condition must be based on facts and not on stereotypes. Such a belief must be based on either reliable information obtained from a reliable source or direct observation.
When an employer is permitted by law to request an employee to undergo a fitness-for-duty exam, they are only allowed to acquire enough information to help them determine whether the employee can do their job without posing a threat to themselves or anyone else. Acquiring any more information about the employee’s medical condition or disability would be against the law.
Exceptions to the General Rule
As is the case with many other rules, there are exceptions to this general rule. Firstly, if an employee is returning from medical leave, an employer can ask the employee for a fitness-for-duty certification from their health care provider. However, even in such a case, an employer can only ask for information regarding the particular condition that was the reason for the employee’s leave of absence. Secondly, if a disabled employee asks for reasonable accommodation, an employer can ask the employee to provide medical documentation.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you believe your employer does not have a lawful basis for asking you to undergo a fitness-for-duty exam, contact our New Jersey employment lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm for a free case evaluation.