South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Improper Use of Medical Information May Violate ADA Even if No Disability
Description Court rejected an employer’s request to dismiss a suit brought by a former employee who sued for violation of the ADA for sharing medical information about the employee with prospective employers. Even if the employee is not disabled, improper use of medical exams and information is a violation of the ADA.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Disability; Qualified Individual; Disability; Medical Information
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Heston worked for UL for six years. After five years of employment, she injured her back and was found to be temporarily totally disabled. She was placed on six-month disability leave, which was extended to almost a year. When she returned to work, it was agreed that the amount of time she spent sitting would be reduced. She claimed that she was assigned to a lower-level position in the mailroom, rather than her old position as a word processor. She quit and had a hard time finding a new permanent position. A private detective she hired contacted UL for a job reference for her. The private detective was told that while she was a good employee, her medical condition made her an unsatisfactory employee. Heston sued. UL moved that the suit be dismissed because Heston is not a “qualified individual with a disability” under the ADA.

Motion denied. A former employee does have the right to bring an action under the ADA. While in most cases the plaintiff is a “qualified individual with a disability,” a person does not have to be so qualified to recover under the ADA section that prohibits discrimination with respect to medical examinations and inquiries. The purpose of that section of the ADA is to tightly regulate most job-related health exams and inquiries to reduce discrimination in employment on that basis.

Citation Heston v. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., --- F.Supp.2d --- ( 2003 WL 23028437, M.D., N.C., 2003)

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