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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Must Employers Who Condition Job Offers On Passing A Medical Exam Keep The Medical Information Confidential?

Disability Discrimination is shown on the business photo using the text

For more than twenty years, our Citrus County, Florida employment discrimination lawyers have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims. Through their decades of experience handling employment discrimination cases, our Inverness, Florida employment discrimination attorneys know that employers often require a medical examination after an offer of employment as been made to a job applicant. In connection with requiring a medical examination, employers generally condition the offer of employment on the results of the examination. Under such circumstances, an issue that inherently arises is whether employers are required by federal employment discrimination law to keep the medical information obtained regarding the job applicant confidential. In this article, our Citrus County, Florida employment discrimination lawyers explain how the decision in Byrd v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC, Case No. 20-cv-0520 (S.D. Ala. June 13, 2022) demonstrates that federal employment discrimination law imposes a strict duty of confidentiality under such circumstances.

Rights Of Job Applicants

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees because of disability. Under the ADA, employers are allowed to require a medical examination after an offer of employment as been made to a job applicant. The ADA also allows employers to condition an offer of employment on the results of a medical examination, but only if the information obtained regarding the job applicant’s medical condition or medical history is treated as a confidential medical record. In other words, when an employer conditions an offer of employment on the results of a medical examination, the ADA requires the employer to treat the medical information obtained regarding the job applicant as confidential. If an employer discloses the medical information or otherwise fails to maintain the confidentiality of the medical information, the ADA permits a job applicant to recover damages, emotional, financial, or otherwise, caused by the failure breach of confidentiality.

Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

In Byrda man named Byrd brought an employment discrimination lawsuit against Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC (Outokumpu), pursuant to the ADA. Byrd claims, in relevant part, that Outokumpu violated the ADA by unlawfully disclosing his medical information and failing to keep it confidential.

Outokumpu operates a steel mill. Byrd was employed by RHI, a contractor for Outokumpu, working on-site in the caster department. Outokumpu eventually offered Outokumpu a caster job position. Outokumpu’s offer of employment, however, was conditioned on Byrd passing a physical and drug test. Although Byrd passed the physical and drug test, Outokumpu learned that Byrd was prescribed a certain pain medication and rescinded its employer offer. The medication at issue was prescribed by a medical doctor due to a knee injury that Byrd experienced years ago, which limits Byrd in several major life activities.

Evidence Of Unlawful Disclosure

Outokumpu filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Byrd’s claim that the company violated the ADA by disclosing his medical information and failing to keep it confidential. In support of its motion for dismissal, Outokumpu argued that Byrd had no evidence that the company disclosed his medical information or otherwise failed to keep his medical information confidential. In denying Outokumpu’s motion for dismissal, the trial court found that there “is evidence” that some employees at the steel mill “understood that [Byrd] had not been hired due to his medications.”

In support of its conclusion, the trial court observed that an electrician employed by Outokumpu told Byrd that “someone asked over the radio who was coming in on the next shift and, when the answer was [Byrd’s first name], someone said, “Oh, the one who can’t pass the drug test.” The trial court also pointed out that another electrician employed by Outokumpu told Byrd that there was a rumor going around in the administration building that Byrd had “too much medication going on” and so Outokumpu would not hire him. The trial court further observed that an employee of Outokumpu, Dickson, “heard someone say over the radio, ‘Where is that druggie at?” Byrd, who was with Dickson at the time, became angry and said, “I’m tired of hearing that,” so Dickson assumed the reference was to Byrd. Finally, the trial count explained, Byrd claims that another employee of Outokumpu, Zielinski, “went to my boss and told her that I was on four or five different medications that they couldn’t hire me.” Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded, a jury could reasonably find that Outokumpu violated the ADA by disclosing Byrd’s medical information and failing to keep Byrd’s medical information confidential.

Citrus County Discrimination Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our employment discrimination attorneys in Citrus County, Florida have litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts for more than two decades. If you have experienced workplace discrimination or have questions about your rights under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our employment discrimination lawyers in Citrus County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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