Out dated personnel practices can cost you!

by Michael Haberman on March 28, 2016 · 0 comments


A pre-employment medical history can get employers in significant trouble with the EEOC.

A pre-employment medical history can get employers in significant trouble with the EEOC.

I titled this “personnel” practices rather than HR practices because, as you will see, what this company did reflects pre-2000 ways of thinking. Many companies still operate this way and they are bound to suffer for it at some point.

Pre-hire medical forms

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been around since 1990. In the 26 years it has been in force numerous cases and a lot of explanation has made it clear that physicals or the collection of information on an applicant’s medical condition was prohibited until a job offer was made. This was designed this way to force an employer to make a decision of employment based on the applicant’s ability to perform the work and not an applicant’s physical restrictions. Unfortunately a firm in Missouri was not up to date on EEOC regulations.

According to a press release from the EEOC:

Grisham Farm Products, Inc. of Mountain Grove, Mo., violated federal law by requiring all job applicants to fill out a three-page health history before they would be considered for a job. [additionally] EEOC also alleged Grisham Farm Products does not maintain or retain employment records and applications for employment, as required by law.

Violates the ADA and GINA

The use of this pre-employment medical questionnaire violates both Title 1 of the ADA, but because the questionnaire also asked genetic information (family medical history) it also violated the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA.) After unsuccessfully trying to conciliate with the company the EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division. The EEOC is seeking monetary damages and an order requiring Grisham Farm Products to implement policies and practices to prevent discrimination. The EEOC said “Grisham Farm Products’ intrusive health history form is among the most egregious we have seen.”

The lesson for employers

The major lesson here for employers is that you have to be operating with a set of policies and procedures that conform to the compliance regulations as they exist in 2016. Regulations have been rewritten and court cases have changed the laws, in some cases substantially, since the 1990s and 2000s. If you are unclear if you are in compliance, or your policies have not been reviewed for the past 10 years, you would be well served to have them looked at by an experienced consultant or an employment attorney. You will end up spending much less money and avoid having government press releases being written about you.


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