Private employers. Some states have comprehensive fair employment laws that restrict an employer's right to give physical examinations to applicants and employees, but Mississippi does not have such a law for private employers. However, many Mississippi employers are covered by federal fair employment laws that do affect an employer's use of physical exams, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Public employers. State law specifically prohibits discrimination in state employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or political affiliation (MS Stat. Sec. 25-9-103 et seq.). A separate disability law also covers state and local government, public schools, and other state-funded employment (MS Stat. Sec. 43-6-15). Employers will likely violate these provisions if physical exam policies screen out or otherwise discriminate against a particular group (e.g., exams are required only for older workers).
The ADA restricts an employer's right to give physical examinations. However, employers may condition an offer of employment on the results of an exam if it is given to all applicants in the same job category. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees.
Under a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, when an employer denies employment based on a medical qualification standard, it must prove that (1) the standard "fairly and accurately measures the individual's actual ability" to perform the essential functions of the job in question, and (2) there is no reasonable accommodation that would allow the applicant to safely perform the job (Bates v. United Parcel Service, Inc., 511 F.3d 974 ...