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.
According to rules issued by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, an employer may require a physical exam at any point in the application process to determine whether the applicant is physically and mentally capable of performing the job in question and can do so without adverse consequences, such as creating a danger to the life or health of coworkers (IA Admin. Code Sec. 161-8.27(216)). Physical standards should be fair, reasonable, and adapted to the actual requirements of the job.
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 ...