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Florida Physical Exams: What you need to know

The Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age, and disability, but does not specifically address the issue of physical examinations (FL Stat. Sec. 760.10). However, an employer will likely violate the Act if exams are given only to a particular group of applicants or employees (for example, only to older individuals) or if an exam policy appears to be neutral but disproportionately screens out a particular group. The Act covers employers with 15 or more employees.
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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a job applicant does not have to have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to bring a lawsuit alleging the employer made prohibited medical inquiries (Harrison v. Benchmark Elecs. Huntsville, Inc., 593 F.3d 1206 (11th Cir. 2010)). The job applicant in this case was a contract worker who applied for regular employment with the employer. Before extending an offer of employment, the employer required applicants to undergo a drug screening. When the applicant's test came back positive, the hiring manager called the applicant into his office, phoned the employer's medical review officer (MRO), and stayed in the office while the applicant answered the MRO's questions. The answers revealed that the applicant had epilepsy for which he was taking prescription medication. The hiring manager declined to offer the job to the applicant and asked the placement agency not to have the applicant return to the workplace. When the applicant brought a lawsuit claiming the employer made a prohibited medical inquiry in violation of the ADA, the court ruled he had a right to ...

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