Company Required Applicants to Complete an Unlawful Pre-Offer Health Questionnaire, Federal Agency Charged
INDIANAPOLIS -- Strataforce, a staffing firm with offices in California, Indiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina, agreed to resolve a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that the company made pre-offer health inquiries of applicants in violation of federal law.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Strataforce asked applicants to complete an application package that included a detailed medical questionnaire before the company offered the applicant a position or placement. The medical questionnaires asked for sensitive health information, and included numerous disability-related questions. Employers are generally prohibited from making pre-offer medical inquiries and refusing to hire qualified individuals with disabilities by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
EEOC filed suit against Strataforce in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division (EEOC v. Workforce Integration Inc d/b/a Strataforce, Case No. 1:17-cv-4104, S.D. Ind.) on Nov. 6, 2017. The parties reached agreement and filed a joint motion to approve a consent judgment on November 7. The motion was approved by the Court and the Consent Judgment was entered on November 13. Under the Consent Judgment, Strataforce will be required to provide notice to applicants of their rights under the ADA and submit annual compliance reports to the Commission during the Judgment's four-year term.
"Congress recognized that prohibiting pre-offer medical inquiries was necessary to prevent applicants from being subjected to harmful and unfounded stereotypes on the basis of an actual or perceived disability," said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth Bird. "As staffing agencies now play a large role in our nation's workforce, eliminating any discrimination in their screening practices is increasingly important to ensuring that workers with disabilities have equal access to work opportunities. Here, EEOC's investigation showed Strataforce has hired many individuals with disabilities, and we are pleased that in the future Strataforce will conduct its hiring processes in compliance with the ADA. I commend Strataforce for entering an early resolution of the case."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). These barriers can include exclusionary policies and practices, restrictive application processes, and the use of screening tools such as pre-employment tests, background checks and medical questionnaires.
The Indianapolis District Office's jurisdiction includes Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and parts of Ohio. The EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.