Demand that managers give higher-ups clearly articulated business reasons for any impromptu medical tests they want employees to take. Often, courts will see these medical exams as thinly veiled attempts to push employees out the door. Also, wrongheaded medical tests can open the door to disability discrimination lawsuits.
Recent case: Soon after Arthur Syken filed job-bias complaints with his union and a state employment agency, Syken's employer forced him to undergo psychiatric evaluations as a condition of employment. Pointing to this forced exam, Syken added another claim to his case, unlawful retaliation.
The court sided with Syken, saying his case had the required ingredients of a retaliation claim:?1) He participated in a "protected activity" that his employer was aware of (filing an administrative complaint).
2) He suffered an adverse employment action (the forced exam).
3) He showed a connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. (Syken v. State of New York, No. 02 Civ. 4673, S.D.N.Y., 2003)
Best bet: Use these exams only when a clear-cut legitimate business reason exists, such as when an employee's condition poses a direct threat to health and safety in your workplace.
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