Pre-Employment Testing: The Legal Implications

HR Resource
November 11, 2013 — 2,800 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Today, many employers are resorting to pre-employment testing to verify that their employees meet the necessary health standards before they are employed. This is mandatory at some companies and is optional in others. Sometimes, employees might refuse to undergo such tests. In other cases, they may not get employed, unless they take these tests.

What is Pre-Employment Testing?

Many times, a company will require its employees to undergo a pre-employment test before they are hired. They might have to submit blood samples to certified medical bodies. They will then submit a report to the company. The report can reveal if the person has a history of alcohol addiction, drug abuse or any other medical problems.

Some companies have a zero tolerance policy against any kind of substance abuse among their employees. They may reject any potential hires if they fail the test. On the other hand, some companies might reject employees because they might be medically unfit, they might have heart problems or disabilities which make them unable to do the required work.

Pros and Cons of Pre-Employment Testing

Pre-employment testing can provide several advantages to the company. It can be used to detect in advance any employees who might be a liability to the company. It can make the hiring process more efficient and can make the working environment safer for other employees. It can be used to reduce the amount of resources spent on on-boarding of the employees once they are hired. It can be used to identify those employees who are fitter and more suitable for the job.

On the other hand, there can be several disadvantages as well. Sometimes, some employees might fail a medical test despite being in perfect health. This can happen because medical tests are not completely reliable. Sometimes, a small amount of insignificant medication that the employee took temporarily can get wrongly identified as a drug by the medical test. Other disadvantages include the fact that several employees might be great workers despite being medically unfit. It is very difficult to identify them in advance.

Legal Implications of Pre-Employment Testing

The legal requirements surrounding pre-employment testing vary from state to state. In some states they are completely banned. In other states, they are only required for certain kinds of jobs. In every case, it is best for the company to verify in advance whether they should proceed with the testing or not.

In some cases, these tests can become a reason for the company to get sued on discrimination grounds. The company should not discriminate against disabled people. Only in the case of certain jobs requiring hard manual work, is it acceptable to reject people with certain disabilities. But in every other case, the company should be careful against discrimination.

In conclusion, it can be said that pre-employment testing can be both advantageous and disadvantageous for a company. In most cases, it depends on the type of job and its requirements. Every company must verify the requirements in advance and then proceed with the testing.

HR Resource