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Which disability questions are legal? Check new EEOC rules

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

If you're confused about when you can ask an employee about his medical condition or medical tests, new guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) tries to clear up that controversial question.

The guidelines examine specific scenarios on when employers can obtain medical information on current employees. Previous guidelines covered pre- and post-offer disability-related inquiries and medical exams.

Bottom line: If an employee is having no performance problems, it's usually inappropriate to ask about his medical condition.

The EEOC spells out what is and isn't a disability-related inquiry. For example, asking generally about an employee's well being ("How are you?") is not restricted by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The guidelines also explain how an employer must treat employees applying for a different job with the same company. EEOC's position: Treat them as you would any applicant, which includes restrictions on asking questions and requiring exams before making a conditional offer for the position.

To read the document, Enforcement Guidance: Disability-Related Inquires and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, go to www.eeoc.gov/docs/guidance-inquiries.html.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

ann pearson December 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Question. I was working for a successful department store. They were changing my schedule and the departments I worked in often. (MY managers knew I am Bipolar 1) I began getting headaches, and nervous stomach. I also began suffering from anxiety. I thought I may need a medicine adjustment. After an appointment with my Psychiatrist of 5 years, I was so relieved my medications did not need to be adjusted. He told me my health was declining because of stress in the workplace. I let my managers know this immediately. I was relieved to know this may be able to fixed with a stable schedule. No one was willing to budge.

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