Can Employers Request Medical Information about Employees? By Dan Atkerson on September 15, 2020

A binder of patient information

A person's medical history is a personal and private matter. Although sometimes employers may need to know certain information in order to accommodate employees, there is a fine line between making an appropriate request for medical information and overstepping employment laws. However, it can be uncomfortable to tell your employer “no” - especially if you think your job is on the line. An employment law attorney can help clarify when a request is lawful or when it's a violation to the employee.

So can employers request medical information about employees? Servicing Allen, TX, Plano, TX, Frisco, TX, and neighboring areas, attorney Dan A. Atkerson answers this question and more during client consultations. Please contact the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson to schedule your personal consultation.

Employee Medical Information Is Protected

Medical information is a private matter between a patient and their doctor and other healthcare professionals and is protected by many laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While there are certain cases in which asking for medical information is necessary, they must follow very specific guidelines to do so. If they do not, it can actually put an employer at risk of violating certain laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

When Can Employers Request Medical Information?

An employer may request medical information but this request must be limited and specific. This means general, far-reaching inquiries are not allowed.

Requests for medical information should be based on whether an employee's condition or medications are impacting their ability to perform essential aspects of their job duties. Employers may be able to make inquiries for medical information if it pertains to an employee's ability to perform the functions of their job.

Employers may also ask for voluntary medical examinations or voluntary medical histories if it's part of an employee health program. Employees should not be penalized for not providing medical information in such situations.

What Medical Information Can't Be Requested?

While employers may believe they need medical details from an employee, they are not entitled to certain information. Requesting general health information without any relation to job duties may be considered illegal discrimination under the ADA.

The ADA prohibits employers from requiring medical examinations or asking employees if they have a disability, or any past or present medical conditions unless the inquiry or examination is related to the job. For example, an employer may inquire about medical information if the job duties require heavy lifting - but only if it is related to the employee's ability to lift heavy objects. Anything more is inappropriate. < p/>

An employer can't request medical information without a specific reason. If medical information is requested without a specific reason but as a means to find something to terminate an employee over, it may be a case of discrimination.

Contact Employment Law Attorney Dan A. Atkerson

Although employers can make legal requests for health information, some requests may be considered discrimination. If you suspect an employer's inquiry for medical information was discriminatory, it's important to discuss the matter with an employment law attorney. To schedule a consultation with employment law attorney Dan A. Atkerson, please call (214) 383-3606. 

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