The post-offer medical exam process of JBS Carriers was subject to an EEOC Discrimination suit. As a result, the trucking company agreed to pay $250,000 to settle the disability discrimination lawsuit.
A description of facts in the lawsuit is available in the EEOC press release available here.
Our objective in this blog post is to highlight and provide comment to employers using post-offer medical exams. As always, we recommend using the services of competent legal counsel whether just beginning these types of medical reviews or evaluating your current program of medical reviews.
The EEOC alleged that the JBS Carrier process unlawfully screened out people with disabilities who were qualified for the truck driving jobs they sought. The screening subjected all applicants to a medical history questionnaire, a physical examination, and nine physical abilities tests.
The press release mentions that the process “unlawfully screened out people with disabilities who were qualified for the truck driving jobs they sought”. Obviously, then, the screening process used by JBS did not have an established relationship between the essential functions of the job and the tests given to applicants. This is a crucial step in developing the physical abilities tests.
“The screening subjected all applicants to a medical history questionnaire, a physical examination, and nine physical abilities tests.” After-offer medical history questionnaires can be a powerful tool if used properly. Primarily, they can remove individuals from the hiring process who are falsifying this company document. For example, let’s assume an applicant indicates they had no prior workplace injury claims against a previous employer. But you discover through investigation that they in fact did have a prior workplace injury claim, you can remove them from the hiring process not because of the existence of the injury but rather because they falsified your company document.
“The EEOC also alleged that by not giving individual consideration to job applicants, JBS Carriers discriminated against job applicants based on disability and failed to provide reasonable accommodations.” Again, it is crucial to assure that any decision to remove an individual from the hiring process based on any screening measures needs to be based on a direct correlation between the job’s essential functions and the individual’s ability to perform those essential functions. And, of course, employers need to make reasonable accommodations when appropriate. This question comes up frequently with our clients when considering an individual’s use of marijuana in states that allow medical marijuana.
“JBS Carriers halted the practice, and now only requires job applicants to obtain the Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certification necessary to be a licensed commercial truck driver.” This means that JBS Carriers decided to use a medical screen that had established links between the job’s essential functions and their ability to perform those job tasks. While JBS Carriers used an established government agency screen, that doesn’t mean an employer can’t implement a non-DOT process for non-DOT positions. What is important is that the screening process meet the criteria of being related to the job’s essential functions and accurately reflects the applicant’s ability to carry out those job tasks.