Mandatory 'Health History' Form Violated Federal Law, Federal Agency Says
ST. LOUIS -- Grisham Farm Products, Inc. of Mountain Grove, Mo., violated federal law by requiring all job applicants to fill out a three-page health history before they would be considered for a job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. EEOC also alleged Grisham Farm Products does not maintain or retain employment records and applications for employment, as required by law.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Phillip Sullivan, a retired law enforcement officer who sought employment with Grisham Farm Products, was told by the company that if he did not fully complete and submit a three-page health history form with his application, he would not be considered for any job.
Because the pre-employment form requested information that could cause an applicant to identify himself or herself as a person with a disability, its use violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), EEOC said. The suit further claimed the form does not comply with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits employers from requesting or requiring genetic information, including medical histories, regarding applicants or their family members, except in limited circumstances allowed by statute.
EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Grisham Farm Products, Inc., Civil Action No. 6:16-cv-3105) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Southern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks monetary relief and an order requiring Grisham Farm Products to implement policies and practices to prevent discrimination.
"Job applicants cannot be required to provide employers with their medical history prior to receiving a job offer," said James R. Neely, Jr., director of EEOC's St. Louis District Office. "Grisham Farm Products' intrusive health history form is among the most egregious we have seen."
Andrea G. Baran, EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis, said, "The ADA and GINA are intended to protect both employees and job applicants from unlawful discrimination. When companies require applicants to reveal their health history, it not only discourages some individuals, like Mr. Sullivan, from applying, it also allows employers to consider illegal factors in their employment decisions. As such, enforcement of these laws is critically important to a discrimination-free workplace."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
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 EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.