Title I, ADA—When Is a Medical Exam a Business Necessity?

Kroll v. White Lake Ambulance Authority is a 6th Circuit case that adds to the slim body of law on when an employer’s medical examination “may be deemed job-related and consistent with business necessity” under 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A). Employment lawyer Paul Mollica discusses the case, which was also covered in his employment blog.

Paul Mollica

Paul Mollica

The long-running case concerns the problems of an EMT employed by the ambulance authority. In this case, the ambulance authority required Ms. Kroll to receive counseling after she was observed having angry outbursts at her workplace. The ADA generally prohibits such medical exams unless the “job-related” and “business necessity” tests are met.

The case was the subject of an initial summary judgment that went to the 6th Circuit, which sent the case back for further proceedings. On the remand, the district court again granted summary judgment, this time holding “that the proposed examination met the job-relatedness and business-necessity standards.”

On the second appeal, the 6th Circuit concluded that these findings needed to be made by a jury. The appellate court noted that there was no evidence of any kind of medical support for the decision that Ms. Kroll needed to go into counseling. Another thing the court noted was that her supervisor had not indicated that there was a business or professional reason for this, but rather that he had a concern about her personal welfare.

Mollica says that it was a mistake, in the view of the 6th Circuit, to condition her employment on receiving the counseling. The supervisor’s good intentions should not be conflated to a business reason for the counseling.

Paul W. Mollica joined Outten & Golden LLP as Of Counsel in 2010. He is a frequent author and lecturer (for lawyers and courts) in the area of employment discrimination. He is a two-term past president of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, a public-interest bar association. He has been selected as a Super Lawyer© in Illinois and has the highest, AV© rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He is licensed to practice in Illinois and New York. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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