EEOC Releases Health Care ADA Guidance

February 27, 2007 ( - The nation's workplace anti-discrimination agency has released a new guidance document on how to apply the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to health care industry workers and job applicants.

A news release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said the  health care document – presented in a question and answer format – is part of a series of such briefing papers about specific disabilities in the workplace and specific industries.

The fact sheet provides information about applying ADA employment rules in health care jobs, in a variety of settings – from public and private hospitals and nursing care facilities to doctors’ and dentists’ offices and diagnostic laboratories, according to the EEOC.

The guidance would apply to an array of health care occupations including physicians, surgeons, dental hygienists and nurses, social workers, physical therapists, medical records clerks, laboratory technicians, paramedics, home health aides, and custodial and food service workers in medical facilities.

The document explains how the ADA applies to some unique situations that may arise in the health care setting. Many of the real-life examples in the fact sheet are based on cases that have been decided by courts or settled by the EEOC, the agency said.

Topics include:

  • When someone is an “employee” covered by the ADA (as opposed to an independent contractor);
  • When someone is an “individual with a disability” under the ADA;
  • How to determine if a health care applicant or employee with a disability is qualified for ADA purposes;
  • What types of reasonable accommodations health care workers with disabilities may need and the limitations on a health care employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodation;
  • When an employer may ask health care applicants or employees questions about their medical conditions or require medical examinations; and
  • How a health care employer should handle safety concerns about applicants and employees.

According to the EEOC, health care is the largest industry in the American economy. The health care industry provided more than 13 million jobs in 2004 and is expected to account for 195 of all new jobs created between 2004 and 2014 – more than any other industry.

In addition, the health care industry has a high incidence of occupational injury and illness. Health care jobs may involve potential exposure to airborne and bloodborne infectious disease, injuries from syringes, and other dangers.

General information about the ADA is at this U.S. Department of Labor Web site .