South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Use of Personality Tests to Uncover Possible Mental Problems Violates ADA

Appeals court held that for an employer to give a personality test as a condition of employment violates the ADA when the test is used to uncover possible mental disorders as such a test is a medical examination, even if medical personnel are not used in the process.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Disability; Psychological Tests; Medical Examination

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

The Karraker brothers worked for Rent-A-Center (RAC), a chain of stores that offers household goods on a rent-to-own basis. To be eligible for promotion, employees were required to take the APT Management Trainee-Executive Profile, a set of nine tests designed to measure math, language skills, interests and personality traits. The test not only reported on whether a person is comfortable in a fast-paced office, but also the likelihood that the person could suffer from depression, paranoia, and other mental disorders. Based on their scores, the Karrakers were not considered for promotion. They sued, contending that the use of personality disorder tests violate the ADA. The district court dismissed the suit. The Karrakers appealed.


Reversed in part. The administration of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) as part of a management test was a medical examination and so violated the ADA even though the employer did not have the test results interpreted by a psychologist. The test was designed, at least in part, to reveal mental illness and so impacted the likelihood of promotion prospects for employees with a mental disability.


Karraker v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 411 F.3d 831 (7th Cir., 2005)

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