In a recently filed lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission contends that Consolidated Edison Co. (“Con Ed”) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”) by its use of pre-employment medical examinations. According to the Complaint, Con Ed required applicants to submit to pre-employment medical examinations in which the company improperly sought disclosure of genetic information and used this information in deciding whether to hire certain applicants.
Employers should be aware of the following general requirements under the ADA and GINA:
- The ADA prohibits all disability-related inquiries and medical examination prior to a valid offer of employment
- If a valid conditional offer of employment has been issued, the ADA allows an employer to make disability-related inquires and conduct medical examinations as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same job category
- Once employment begins, the ADA only permits an employer to make disability-related inquiries and require medical examinations if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity (see guidance by clicking here)
- GINA prohibits employers from requesting genetic information about applicants, such as family medical history, during the course of any pre-employment medical examination; and
- GINA prohibits employers from using genetic information in making employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotions and compensation (see guidance by clicking here)
Employers found to have violated the ADA and/or GINA could be liable to aggrieved applicants and employees for back pay, compensation for economic losses, emotional pain and suffering, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. Consequently, employers are encouraged to review their hiring procedures and contact counsel with any compliance question that may arise.