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Minn. company charged with requesting too much employee medical information


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Tuesday charged a power generation equipment company with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring an employee to submit overly broad medical release forms.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota, the agency charges that Shoreview, Minnesota-based Cummins Power Generation Inc. required an employee to sign various medical release forms that sought “irrelevant” information, and that it told the worker he had to sign a release before taking a fitness-for-duty exam.

When the employee objected to signing the releases, he was told he had to sign them or face termination. The company ultimately fired the employee for failing to sign the release, said the EEOC, which did not identify the employee in its statement.

The EEOC maintains Cummins was making disability-related inquires that were not job-related or consistent with business necessity by requiring the worker to execute an overly broad release, which violates the ADA, according to its statement.

The EEOC also said the releases would have resulted in disclosure of family medical history in violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and that the company violated both the ADA’s and GINA’s anti-retaliation revisions by firing the employee for his “good-faith” objections to the releases.

“The EEOC doesn’t challenge Cummins’ request for a fitness-for-duty examination, but Cummins had an obligation to request only those medical records and information that actually pertained to that issue,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago district, in the statement.

“Employees don’t give up all rights to privacy of their medical information when they get a job. By asking for all and sundry medical information, Cummins went too far. The EEOC is here to make sure employers follow the requirements of ADA — and of GINA, which is a newer statute that everyone needs to understand and observe.”

A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

In August, the EEOC filed suit against a Wisconsin energy company for allegedly violating the ADA, charging it shifted responsibility for paying health care premiums to an employee who refused to participate in its wellness program, then fired her.

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