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Beware Pre-Employment Medical Exams!

pre-employment physical examinationsYou interview for a job and get hired if you pass the pre-hire physical exam. the employer sends you to a third-party pre employment testing company. The job applicant named Shelly Garlitz was offered employment with a hospital in Michigan. Once she completed the before hire physical examination at Healthwise Medical Clinic her employment would be secured.

When she got to Healthwise she was handed a list of questions about goals concerning having kids. She was particularly quizzed about what kinds of birth control she utilized and the number of miscarriages, births or abortions. These questions were only asked of female job seekers. Ms. Garlitz decided these questions were inappropriate and refused to answer.

Because of her refusal the Michigan hospital took back the job offer. What do you think happened next…you guessed it, Ms. Garlitz filed a lawsuit against the hospital. She had a hefty lawsuit that included a charge of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 prohibiting against sex or gender discrimination. Title VII also involves concerns dealing with giving birth or pregnancy.

The state and federal lawsuit claimed her (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act) rights were violated because the pre-hire screening had nothing to do with her ability to perform the essential functions related to the job she was offered.

Finally, Ms. Garlitz claimed the hospital violated her right to privacy under the 14th Amendment. Of course the hospital said it did nothing wrong. The hospital claimed the job offer was taken back because Shelly’s “attitude” on how she dealt with the people at Healthwise. It further argued that Healthwise was responsible for the list of questions so the hospital was not liable. The hospital ALPENA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER is an acute-care medical facility employing more than nine hundred people. Shelly Garlitz had work for Alpena previously and left In May 2007. She left Alpena to complete school and to work as a traveling medical technologist.

It was a year later that she decided to reapply for new employment. In the previous employment her quality of work was rated excellent and her “attitude” and character were rated as good. What was the outcome of the lawsuit? The court decided the hospital didn’t have a legal leg to stand on! The case was placed in the hands of a jury. Several things came out this case that career seekers and employees should take notice of.

  • Your privacy rights might be violated if the questions are not related to your employment.

  • There could be an ADA violation even though you are not physical or mentally impaired.

  • A third party organization could be legally viewed as an “agent” for the employer.

This is another potential victory for employers being required to respect the “letter” if not the “spirit” of the rights of employees. It also should encourage every job applicant and employee to become more proactive in understanding and being fearless in fighting to protect and enforce their employment rights.

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