Can Employers Require Employees to Provide Medical Information Regarding Disabilities?

A recent case from the Minnesota Court of Appeals noted a significant difference between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).

Under the ADA, an employer “may require” a medical examination or inquiry of an employee so long as it is “job-related and consistent with business necessity.”  29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c).  Under the MHRA, an employer may request that an employee provide medical documentation concerning the employee’s continuing ability to perform the job or potential need for accommodation “with the consent of the employee.”  Minn. Stat. § 363A.20, Subd. 8(a)(2).

In Crummy v. Enterprise Minnesota, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that an employer discriminated against an employee when it demanded that he provide medical documentation for his dyslexia and fired him for not providing the documentation.  2012 WL 360391 (Minn. Ct. App. 2012).  The employer argued that the employee was insubordinate when he did not provide the requested medical documentation, but the court rejected this argument.  The facts of the case are relatively unique because the court found that the employee never requested an accommodation from the employer, but the employer requested medical documentation from the employee anyway.

Takeaway:  The Crummy case highlights the potential significance of minor language differences between the ADA and MHRA.  When responding to requests for accommodation from employees, employers in Minnesota need to ensure that their practices are in compliance with both statutes.

About Michael Miller

Michael is a Chambers-rated attorney in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits, and Labor group and is head of the firm’s Employment Law Counseling and Compliance practice group. He has 25 years experience counseling employers to prevent unwanted litigation and advises companies of ongoing changes in federal, state and local employment law. Michael advises employers in all areas of employment law including discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, affirmative action plans, background checking, and drug/alcohol testing. For Michael's full bio, click here.

Posted on May 29, 2012, in Accommodations and Accessibility, Discrimination and Harassment and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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