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Can we administer personality tests without running afoul of the ADA?

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources


Q. My company would like to administer personality tests to job applicants. Does this practice violate the ADA?  
Like many aspects of the ADA, deciding whether a personality test violates the law requires an individualized analysis.
The ADA prohibits employers from asking an applicant disability-related questions or requiring a medical examination before making a conditional offer of employment. Disability-related questions are those that prompt applicants to provide information regarding disabilities. A medical examination seeks information about an applicant’s general health or physical or mental impairments.
If a personality test elicits information that would likely lead to identifying a mental disorder or impairment, it would be considered a medical examination. However, if the test measures characteristics such as honesty, habits or tastes, it probably is not a medical examination.
Additionally, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled applicants who wish to take a pre-employment test—unless doing do would create an undue hardship for the employer. In such situations, the personality test must be given in a format that does not require the use of the worker’s impaired skill (unless the test is designed to measure that skill). Even if the test is designed to measure the impaired skill, the results cannot be used to exclude the applicant unless the skill is an “essential” function of the job.  
If a personality test results in an applicant being rejected for the job, the employer must be prepared to demonstrate that the test was job related, was consistent with business necessity and that the individual could not perform the essential functions of the job even with reasonable accommodations.


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