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Physical Exams: What you need to know

The ADA is the primary federal law that affects an employer's use of physical examinations and provides different sets of requirements depending upon whether the exam involves an applicant or employee. These exam requirements, as well as the ADA's other employment provisions, apply to all state and local governments, and to private employers with 15 or more employees.
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What is a medical exam? According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), physical or medical exams are procedures or tests that seek information about an individual's physical or mental impairments or health. The EEOC considers the following factors in determining whether a particular test or procedure is a medical exam:
• Is the test administered or interpreted by a healthcare professional or someone trained by a healthcare professional? Are medical equipment or devices used to administer the test? Is it administered in a medical setting?
• Is the test designed to reveal disabilities or physical or mental health? Is the employer administering the test for these reasons?
• Is the procedure invasive, i.e., does it require drawing blood, urine samples, breath analysis, etc.?
• Does the procedure measure physiological or psychological responses rather than an individual's ability to perform a task?
Examples of tests that the EEOC would consider medical exams include:
• Vision tests conducted and analyzed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist
• Blood, urine, or other tests to detect disease, genetic markers, or alcohol use (including breath alcohol tests)
• Blood pressure screening and cholesterol testing
• Nerve conduction tests (i.e., tests that screen for possible nerve damage and susceptibility to injury, such as ...

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