The Iowa Civil Rights Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability (IA Code Sec. 216.1 et seq.). The Act covers employers with four or more employees. The Act does not have specific requirements regarding physical examinations of applicants or employees.
The federal ADA prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees.
Under the ADA, employers may require prospective employees to undergo a physical exam only after an offer of employment has been made and only if the exam is given to all applicants who have been offered a job in the same category. Employees may be required to undergo only physical exams that are job related and consistent with business necessity. Iowa employers that are covered by both the ADA and state law should comply with the ADA with respect to physical exams.
When basing an employment decision on the results of a physical exam, employers should be sure to provide the physician with an accurate description of job duties. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict in favor of a job applicant after the evidence showed that the employer required the applicant to take a physical exam, marked the exam results as passing, and then marked the results as not passing before it decided not to hire him (Chalfant v. Titan Distribution, Inc., 475 F. 3d 982 (8th Cir. 2007)).
In this case, the examining physician indicated that the employee passed the exam, but suggested additional tests if the job in question required lifting over a certain weight and extensive walking. At trial, the employer provided some ...