In a little-noticed posting on its website, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) this week provided some relief to employers from their ordinary obligations to avoid activities that might constitute a "medical test." Typically, employers in the United States covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are required to refrain from conducting "medical examinations" of their employees except under certain limits set out in ADA regulations. Some of these exceptions include—
Drug testing is a tool commonly used by employers to ensure employees are not illegally using controlled substances at the workplace. But that tool does not come without legal risk. A recent decision by the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals brings to light an interesting intersection between drug testing and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The case—and its implications—are discussed in detail below.
Small business owners are often surprised to learn that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) provides for very specific architectural standards applicable to the physical locations where businesses operate. These standards are prescribed by the Department of Justice in a manual referred to as the “ADAAG,” or ADA Accessibility Guidelines. They are incredibly detailed, with down-to-the-inch requirements for things such as urinals and toilet paper dispensers. They prescribe the appropriate slope and dimensions of parking spaces, and the type of permissible door handles and locks. They even prescribe the range of appropriate heights for signs and the size of the lettering on signs used at small businesses. There is no funding available to help small businesses meet the requirements of the ADAAG, but violations can be quite costly, as set out below.
Employee wellness programs—between a rock and a hard place
Employee wellness programs may be caught between the rock of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and hard place of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).