Washington Physical Exams laws & HR compliance analysis

Washington Physical Exams: What you need to know

The Washington Law Against Discrimination prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability, but does not specifically address the issue of physical examinations. However, an employer will likely violate state law if exams are given only to individuals with disabilities or if a neutral exam policy tends to screen out individuals with disabilities. The law covers employers with eight or more employees (WA Rev. Code Sec. 49.60.010 et seq.).
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State law and federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allow physical agility and fitness tests at the application stage. A fitness test demonstrates the applicant's ability to perform job-related functions and is not considered a medical examination under the ADA. An example of a fitness test would be a lifting test for a job involving heavy lifting.
If physiological or biological responses are measured, the test is considered a medical exam. Under the ADA, an employer may not require a medical exam until after it has extended a conditional offer of employment to an applicant. If an applicant with a disability is screened out with a physical examination, the employer must be able to show that use of the test is job related and consistent with business necessity.
The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees and specifically addresses the issue of medical exams.
Applicants. The ADA allows employers to require physical exams for both applicants and employees, but with certain restrictions. Applicants may not be given an exam before a job offer has been made. However, once an offer has been made and before an applicant begins to work, an ...

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