Don’t make this costly mistake

by | Mar 12, 2015 | Compliance, Our Blog

Asking for too much medical information from employees can land your company in hot water.

PAM Transport Inc. was recently ordered by a U.S. district court to deliver nearly $500,000 to 12 former truck drivers. The court ruled the employer violated the ADA when it required its drivers to submit to what the ADA terms “overly broad medical inquiries.”

The EEOC sued PAM Transport on the drivers’ behalf after learning the employer had, according to the agency, ordered them to “notify the company whenever the driver had any contact with a medical professional, including a routine physical.”

The requirement was spelled out in the employer’s medical clearance policy, the EEOC said. Under the ADA, employees can only be made to submit to medical inquiries if the inquiries are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

In other words, the inquiries have to:

  • help an employer determine whether a medical condition will prevent an employee from performing the essential functions of his or her job, or
  • determine if an employee will pose a direct safety threat because of his or her medical condition.

There are also certain allowances for medical inquiries when an employee requests a disability accommodation and it isn’t immediately clear to the employer what the need for the accommodation is. But asking employees to report to their employer every time they see a doctor, that’s a big no-no.

As a result, the court ordered PAM Transport to cough up $225,998 in back pay and interest, $49,114 in compensatory damages, and $202,287 in punitive damages to the 12 former truck drivers. It also ordered the employer to revise its medical clearance policy and even ordered a retired judge to serve as third-party decision maker to assist PAM Transport in making the necessary changes.