The Tennessee Disability Act prohibits all public and private employers from discriminating on the basis of disability, but does not specifically address the issue of physical examinations (TN Code Sec. 8-50-103). However, an employer will likely violate state law if exams are given only to applicants or employees with disabilities, or if an exam policy appears to be neutral but adversely affects individuals with disabilities.
A federal district court dismissed claims by former employees that their employer's drug screenings violated the Tennessee Disability Act because the Act "does not appear to deal with qualification standards or medical screenings in the workplace" and there was no case law construing the state law to apply to medical examinations (Bates v. Dura Auto. Sys., 650 F. Supp. 2d 754 (M.D. Tenn. 2009)). The court dismissed only the state law claims brought by employees who did not show that they had a disability. One employee provided sufficient evidence that she had a record of a disability and was allowed to proceed with her claim.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently ruled that only individuals with disabilities may pursue a claim under the provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from using qualification standards, employment tests, or other selection criteria that tend to screen out individuals with disabilities (Bates v. Dura Auto. Sys., Inc., 625 F.3d 283 (6th Cir. 2010)).
The ADA also addresses the issue of medical exams.
Applicants. The ADA allows employers to give medical exams to both applicants and employees, but with certain restrictions. Applicants may not be given an exam before a job offer ...