A federal court in Missouri has held that an employer’s employment application unlawfully required job applicants to fill out a three-page “Health History” before being considered for a job, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Grisham Farm Products, Inc., Case No. 6:16-cv-03105-MDH (W.D. Mo. June 8, 2016). Phillip Sullivan, a disabled retired law enforcement officer, wanted to apply for a job with Grisham Farm Products, Inc. He downloaded Grisham’s seven-page online employment application, which included a three-page health history form containing 43 questions for all applicants to answer. The health history form asked numerous questions about the applicant’s health, including whether he had “consulted” a healthcare provider “within the past 24 months,” regardless of whether he had been diagnosed with a particular condition, or sought “advice, diagnosis or treatment” from a healthcare provider. The form also asked applicants to identify whether future diagnostic testing had been recommended or discussed with their medical provider. Sullivan refused to complete the form and contacted the EEOC instead.
After negotiations between the parties and with their consent, the Court entered a judgment finding that Grisham’s employment application violated the ADA because it sought medical information at the pre-offer stage, and that it also violated GINA because it requested information about individuals’ current health status in a way that was likely to result in obtaining genetic information. In addition to injunctive relief prohibiting Grisham from using the health history form, Grisham was ordered to pay Sullivan $10,000. This case highlights the fact that employers should not ask applicants for medical information at the pre-offer stage. Employers should review their employment applications to ensure that they do not ask questions that elicit information about medical conditions or genetic information.