Avoid blanket medical hiring exclusions

Project Engineer Ed Sherman received what amounted to a welcoming handshake from Chief Engineer Art Cobin after his final employment interview.

05/01/1999


Project Engineer Ed Sherman received what amounted to a welcoming handshake from Chief Engineer Art Cobin after his final employment interview.

"Between the two of us, Ed," he confided, "it's simply a matter of getting the company doctor's okay on your physical. You don't see any problems there, do you?"

"No sir, none at all."

Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. The doctor's report was stamped REJECTED. The reason given was that Sherman's sodium level was below the acceptable parameter which, as the physician explained, could lead to various medical problems.

Sherman was stunned by the news.

"Did you know your sodium level was low?"

"It's been low for years, but it's under control. I can bring you a letter from my family doctor testifying that it imposes no restrictions on my work."

Cobin was sympathetic but firm. "I'm sorry, the medical department's verdict is sacrosanct around here. There's nothing I can do about it."

Sherman refused to settle for that. "Your refusal to hire me on these grounds violates the law and spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I'm taking this up with my lawyer."

Question: If Sherman follows through on his threat might he be able to prevail over the medical department?

Expert's opinion: "Low sodium or not," Corporate Attorney Ellen Raphael told Plant Engineer Jay Wallace when informed of Sherman's threat, "my advice is to hire the man if he's otherwise qualified. More and more these days injunctions are being issued to prohibit companies from disqualifying disabled job applicants on the basis of blanket exclusionary policies which discriminate against them."





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