SW Legal studies in Business

Employer Cannot Demand Medical Examination Beyond Job Necessity

Appeals court held that a physical capacity evaluation given to an employee who had undergone surgery went beyond determining if the employee could handle the physical requirements of the job; it amounted to a physical examination that gathered other health information.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Disability; Medical Examination; Business Necessity

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Intergard worked at GP for 20 years when she took medical leave for knee surgery. She was on leave for 15 months. When her doctor allowed her to return to work, it was with permanent restrictions. GP policy required employees to participate in a physical capacity evaluation (PCE) before returning to work from medical leave. The physical therapist hired by GP studied the position Intergard would have and its physical requirements. The job required lifting 75 pounds. After extensive tests for Intergard, the therapist concluded that she could not handle the job requirements given her medical restrictions. Her physician agreed with that assessment. GP informed Intergard that she was not qualified for her position and that there was no other position available for her, so she was terminated. She sued for disability discrimination, contending that the PCE was a medical evaluation that was not related to physical requirements of her position. The district court held for GP. Intergard appealed.


Vacated and remanded. The ADA prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to undergo a medical examination that is not job-related and consistent with business necessity. That applies to all employees, whether disabled or not. Genuine issues of fact existed as to whether the PCE given to Intergard was job related and consistent with business necessity. While GP claimed that the PCE was only to related to physical requirements of the job, the information collected from Intergard amounted to a medical examination that may not have been job related and consistent with business necessity.


Intergard v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., ---F.3d--- (2009 WL 3068162, 9th Cir., 2009)

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