A Matter of Life and Death - Why the Ada Permits Mandatory Periodic Medical Examinations of 'Remote-Location' Employees
51 Pages Posted: 19 May 2006
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides that a covered employer can require an employee to submit to a medical examination if such examination is shown by the employer to be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Some employers that employ workers in high-risk jobs in remote locations desire to institute mandatory periodic medical examination policies that would require current workers to submit to annual medical examinations. The reason for requiring such examinations is to protect the health and safety of the remote-location employee and his or her fellow employees. For example, an offshore oil employee with an undetected heart condition could have a heart attack on the job, causing injury to himself and others. The remoteness of the job site impairs the employer's ability to provide the injured rig employees with access to emergency medical care. A periodic medical examination could prevent such a catastrophe. Unfortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued enforcement guidance that prohibits remote-location employers from demonstrating that their mandatory periodic medical examination policies are job-related and consistent with business necessity. The plain language of the statute, the ADA legislative history, and economic efficiency, however, indicates that employers should have the opportunity to demonstrate that such policies further their legitimate health and safety interests and meet a lenient business necessity standard. And, in fact, such employers should often times be able to satisfy this standard.
Keywords: mandatory periodic medical examinations, current employees, remote-location, business necessity, ADA
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