Employer Settles Charge Claiming It Required Pre-offer Medical Inquiries

September 05, 2017

KB Staffing LLC has agreed to create a $22,500 class damages fund and furnish other relief to settle Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) allegations that from 2011 to 2013, the central Florida staffing firm asked all applicants to complete a paper application package with a detailed medical questionnaire before the company offered an applicant a position or placement.

Although KB Staffing represented that it changed its process in 2013, it still required applicants to complete a medical questionnaire prior to any job offer in some instances after that date, according to the EEOC. The medical questionnaires allegedly asked for sensitive health information and included numerous disability-related questions.

Under the three-year consent decree resolving the case, in addition to the class fund, which represents compensatory and punitive damages, KB Staffing will affirmatively recruit individuals with disabilities, adopt and distribute a policy regarding disability discrimination, and train its management on the ADA’s prohibition against disability discrimination, including its requirements for medical examinations and screenings. KB Staffing also must certify each year that it has not made disability-related inquiries inconsistent with business necessity and that it has maintained the confidentiality of its employees’ medical information. The company must also report detailed information about any disability discrimination complaints and post a notice concerning the lawsuit.

Damages in absence of employment denial. The EEOC noted that earlier in the case, the court sided with the agency in its bid to file an amended complaint, recognizing that applicants who completed the intrusive pre-offer medical questionnaire could be awarded damages even in the absence of being denied employment. The court explained the damages suffered by the class, saying "[i]t is reasonable to infer that emotional or other damages may have been caused by the embarrassment or distress of answering the specific question alleged in the proposed Amended Complaint regarding private and/or sensitive medical information, which include questions about mental health conditions and/or treatment, or disabilities." Accordingly, the EEOC filed its amended complaint on August 10.

"Congress recognized that prohibiting pre-offer medical inquiries was necessary to prevent applicants from being subjected to harmful and unfounded stereotypes on the basis of an actual or perceived disability," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg. "As staffing agencies now play a large role in our nation’s workforce, eliminating any discrimination in their screening practices is increasingly important to ensuring that workers with disabilities have equal access to work opportunities."