Employers should practice care in asking for medical data

Employers who expect prospective workers to hand over their medical information could be asking for trouble. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man who says his employer asked him to disclose all of his private medical information as part of his office job.

The employer, Minneapolis-based Cummins Power Generation, fired the man after he refused to hand over the information. 

Cummins, maker of generators and back-up power products, allegedly violated federal law in requiring the man to “sign a release for all his medical records” as part of a “fitness for duty test,” according to the EEOC suit. 

The lawsuit also claims the company asked the man to fill out a diagnostic assessment form and sought information about any history of psychiatric issues, chemical dependency or suicide attempts. 

The EEOC said in its complaint that the information wasn’t necessary for the job functions required of an office job.

So, just as a reminder to all employers wanting to steer clear of EEOC suits: the American Disabilities Act grants workers the right to be free from medical inquiries that are not job-related and consistent with business necessity.

About the Author

Lon Matejczyk

Lon is the former publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group.He has served in leadership roles at various newspapers in Iowa, Florida and Wisconsin. Lon received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and attended the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Earlier in his career, Lon spent several years as a sea captain and held a 100-ton Coast Guard license. Lon is a former rugby player, referee and administrator and now coaches under 13 year old kids. Lon has served on the boards of numerous community and business organizations including Colorado Springs Leadership Institute, Peak Venture Group, CS Quality of Life Indicators Business Index Committee, Junior Achievement and is a member of The Colorado Thirty Group.  Lon was given the “Making the Pikes Peak region a better place to live work and play” award by the CS Chamber of Commerce, was the VFW Post 1’s business citizen of the year.

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