EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
ADA: Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations
January 13, 2005
This responds to your November 30, 2004, letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission) asking whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) permits an employer to obtain additional medical information from certain applicants at the post-offer stage. In your first example, you ask whether an employer may conduct a follow-up medical examination to determine whether an applicant, who has applied for a position working above ground and reveals post-offer that she has frequent seizures, will pose a direct threat. You also ask whether an employer could require an applicant, who discloses that his low blood pressure causes vertigo when he rises quickly from a seated position, to provide "medical certification that the condition has been corrected or controlled before employment."
Under Title I of the ADA, after extending a conditional job offer, an employer may make disability-related inquiries and conduct medical examinations, regardless of whether they are related to the job, as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same job category. After an employer has obtained basic medical information from all individuals who have been given conditional offers in a job category, it also may ask specific individuals questions or require them to have medical examinations that are medically related to the previously obtained information. See EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Preemployment Disability-Related Questions and Medical Examinations (10/10/95). (This document is available on our website at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/preemp.html.)
Employers, however, should carefully consider the scope of follow-up questions and examinations to obtain only the information actually needed to make a final employment decision. For example, an employer may want more information to determine whether an applicant, who has frequent seizures, can perform a job working above ground level without posing a direct threat (i.e., a significant risk of substantial harm) to herself or others. Because this determination must be based on objective, factual evidence, including the best recent medical evidence, an employer may want to ask the applicant more questions about her condition or ask her to submit additional documentation from her doctor. (See Questions and Answers About Epilepsy in the Workplace and the ADA at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/epilepsy.html.) An employer, however, may not withdraw the job offer if the applicant can safely perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation.
Similarly, an employer could ask an applicant who discloses that he has vertigo medically related follow-up questions, including whether the condition is currently "corrected" or "controlled." Again, however, the employer could not use the information it obtains to withdraw a job offer from an individual with a disability unless it could demonstrate that the individual is unable to perform the job or would pose a direct threat. Thus, if an individual whose vertigo rises to the level of a disability can perform the job in question without posing a direct threat, either with or without a reasonable accommodation, the employer may not withdraw the job offer on the ground that the condition is not "corrected" or "controlled."
This letter is an informal discussion of the issues you raised and does not constitute an official opinion of the EEOC. I hope this information is helpful.
Senior Attorney Advisor
ADA Policy Division
This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.
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