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November 2000Vol. 45, No. 11
While such inquiries are restricted, they are not completely banned. Employers are legally entitled to ask current employees for medical information in certain situations; however, even when employers have the legal right to ask a question, it may not be in their best interests to do so.
When you ask a disability-related question, the answer often comes with a great deal of accompanying baggage. For example, when you possess more medical information about an employee, you may suddenly learn that this individual is entitled to special legal protection as a member of a protected class.
Further, once you have such information, you have the burden of keeping it confidential. And asking disability-related questions may signal to employees (and a jury) that the worker’s medical concerns were a factor in your decision-making.
So, even if you
may ask a medically related question, hold your horses and pop the question only if the following are true:
Otherwise, too much information spread out among too many people can only lead to trouble.
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