(CN) – Georgia-Pacific’s practice of requiring its employers returning to work from sick leave to undergo physical capacity evaluations violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 9th Circuit ruled.
The Portland, Ore.-based appellate panel overturned a trial court’s finding that Georgia-Pacific’s evaluations were not the same as a medical exam. ADA laws forbid employers from requiring workers returning from sick leave to take medical exams unless it “is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity,” the opinion states.
Kris Indergard sued after Georgia-Pacific required her to take a physical capacity evaluation that determined she couldn’t meet the physical demands of her old job after taking time off in 2003 to recover from a knee injury.
She wasn’t given her job back, and claimed the physical capacity evaluation was the same as an improper medical exam.
“The purpose of the (physical capacity exam) may very well have been to determine whether Indergard was capable of returning to work,” the opinion states, but because it “involved tests and inquiries capable of revealing to (Georgia-Pacific) whether she suffered from a disability,” it was an illegal medical examination.