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Employers Unable To Require Medical Exams Before Unconditional Offer Of Employment

A March 4, 2005, decision of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Leonel v.American Airlines, Inc., No. 03-15890, has found that employers may not require applicants to undergo medical examinations before they hold "real" offers of employment. For those employers who place other conditions on offers of employment, this may require a revamping of the hiring and offer process.

Many employers make job offers conditional not only on passing a medical examination, but also conditional pending: (1) background checks, (2) employment verifications, or (3) other conditions such as passing typing or driving tests, for example. The Leonel decision holds that under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, "job applicants should not be required to undergo medical examinations before they hold real offers of employment."

Under Leonel, therefore, any conditions other than the medical exam must be completed, satisfied, and a solid, "unconditional" offer made to the employee before the employer can conduct a medical exam. It will no longer be acceptable to conduct medical examinations while simultaneously still pursuing background checks, for example.

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