Pre-hire medical exams and screenings broke law: judge

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A provider's medical screening of job applicants was illegal, a federal judge has ruled.
A provider's medical screening of job applicants was illegal, a federal judge has ruled.

A provider who conducted pre-employment medical exams and screenings acted illegally, even when it hired some of the individuals, a federal judge has ruled.

Grane Healthcare, a Pennsylvania skilled nursing operator, faces liability for hundreds of medical screenings, determined U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Such screenings may not take place, “regardless of the results or response,” Gibson wrote in her opinion.

Grane admitted they occurred but it sought impunity for actions involving about 200 workers it ultimately hired. Nearly 300 job applicants seeking jobs at the Cambria Care Center in Ebensburg, PA, were subjected to the screenings.

Authorities first alleged wrongdoing by the operators of the 301-bed skilled nursing facility in a 2010 lawsuit. 

Grane rejected about 80 people who underwent exams, and at least 10 were rejected due to exam findings, according to local news reports.

Grane lawyers unsuccessfully argued that, in the relevant part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Congress intended only to protect workers from being denied jobs due to a medical condition. 

But not all of the people who were hired might be eligible to receive damages due to the illegal screenings, she noted in her July 7 decision. Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is not asking for monetary relief for those individuals, it is not expected to be an issue.

The statutory violations are grounds for injunctive relief, so Grane has been permanently enjoined from conducting “medical examinations and inquiries” prior to job offers.

Gibson noted that her ruling is not meant to convey an opinion as to whether the government ultimately will succeed in obtaining any monetary damages.

Grane did not responded to inquires from McKnight's as of press time.