Can an employer request a medical exam?

Wisconsin employers are prohibited by state and federal law from discriminating against employees and prospective employees based on disability. Disability discrimination is covered by the Rehabilitation Act or the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, as well as by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

With regard to medical exams, the law imposes strict limits on the actions of employers. For example, employers are prohibited from requiring a medical examination as part of the job application process. They may not ask medical questions or require a prospective employee to disclose a disability prior to extending a job offer. An employer cannot ask an applicant if he or she has a disability or inquire about the nature of a disability.

The rules are different once the employer has extended an offer of employment. At that point, the employer may ask the applicant to take a medical exam or to answer medical questions, as long as the requirements apply to all new employees of the same type. Once the employment relationship has begun, the employer may require the employee to answer medical questions or take a medical exam only in limited circumstances. If the employee has requested reasonable accommodation for a disability, for example, the employer may require that the request be supported by documentation.

Disability discrimination takes many forms, and each case presents unique circumstances that may bear on the decision of a Wisconsin court. Individuals who have questions about disability discrimination may choose to contact an attorney for advice or assistance. An employment law attorney can provide guidance regarding the applicability of federal and state law and advise a client about remedies that may be available.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Disability Discrimination`“, November 29, 2014


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