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Forcing older staff to take exams singles you out for a lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The New York City Transit Authority required employees over age 40 to undergo an electrocardiogram (EKG) to be considered for the job of station supervisor.

Jack Epter, 46, passed the written exam but refused to take the EKG. Instead, he filed an age discrimination claim, and won. (Epter v. New York City Transit Authority, No. 99-CV-3050, E.D.N.Y., 2001)

Advice: The golden rules in administering medical tests, as with almost every employment practice, are consistency, universal application and business necessity. By singling out a particular class of employees, you're practically begging to be sued.

Under federal law, you can require medical exams for current employees only if the tests are job-related and necessary. For a medical exam to be "job related," you must believe, based on objective evidence, that the worker's ability to do the essential job functions will be impaired or that his medical condition will pose a direct threat to others.

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