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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Thursday filed charges against a manufacturer for allegedly inappropriately testing for carpal tunnel syndrome and using applicants' health histories in the hiring process.
Chicago-based Amsted Industries Inc. and Amsted Rail Co. Inc., which manufacture steel castings for the rail industry, used the tests and health histories to deny employment opportunities to applicants who had a history of carpal tunnel syndrome, or whom Amsted believed might develop the condition, in its Granite City, Illinois, facility, according to the EEOC statement. The company is being charged with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to the EEOC statement, Amsted asks applicants if they have a history of carpal tunnel syndrome and gives them a nerve conduction test, “even though the most relevant published medical literature does not support the use of such tests alone, or the use of prior medical history alone, to predict the development of carpal tunnel.”
A nerve conduction test is a measurement of the speed of conduction of an electrical impulse through a nerve and can determine nerve damage and destruction, according to the website of Baltimore-based John Hopkins Medicine, a unit of Johns Hopkins University.
The EEOC said in its statement that based on the results, Amsted refused to hire Montrell Ingram and at least 50 other applicants because they had history of carpal tunnel syndrome, tested positive on the nerve conduction test, or both.
“Employment decisions, including hiring decisions, must be based on a person's ability to perform the job, not on stereotypes, assumptions or conjecture,” EEOC St. Louis District regional attorney Andrea G. Baran said in a statement. “An individualized assessment of the applicant's present ability to safely perform the job duties is required if an employer screens out an applicant based on medical tests or exams in the hiring process.”
A company spokesman had no comment.
A pending Connecticut case will help determine how the state approaches apportionment of permanent disability benefits when workers with pre-existing or chronic conditions suffer debilitating injuries on the job.