Medical Clearance Process Derails Applicants’ Hopes for Employment, Federal Agency Says
ST. LOUIS — Amsted Industries, Inc. and Amsted Rail Co. Inc., a leader in the manufacture of steel castings for the rail industry, improperly used physical tests and applicants’ health histories in the hiring process at their Granite City, Ill., facility, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today. The result of these practices, according to the agency, was to deny employment opportunities to a class of people who had a history of carpal tunnel syndrome or who Amsted believed might develop that condition.
According to the EEOC’s suit, during Amsted’s hiring process, the company asks applicants if they have a history of carpal tunnel syndrome and gives them a nerve conduction test, even though the most current relevant published medical literature does not support the use of such tests alone, or the use of prior medical history alone, to predict the development of carpal tunnel. Based on the results, Amsted refused to hire Montrell Ingram and at least fifty other applicants because they had a history of carpal tunnel syndrome, tested positive on the nerve conduction test, or both.
Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (EEOC v. Amsted Indus. Inc. and Amsted Rail Co., Inc., Case No. 14-cv-01292-JPG-SCW) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Through its suit, the EEOC seeks to end Amsted’s discriminatory hiring practices and obtain back pay and other damages for the individuals who were denied jobs at Amsted as a result of those practices.
“People applying for jobs deserve a level playing field, free from discrimination based on past medical conditions or the possibility of developing future medical conditions,” said District Director James R. Neely, Jr. of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran added, “Employment decisions, including hiring decisions, must be based on a person’s ability to perform the job, not on stereotypes, assumptions or conjecture. An individualized assessment of the applicant’s present ability to safely perform the job duties is required if an employer screens out an applicant based on medical tests or exams in the hiring process.”
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.