Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Internet is a dangerous place for human resources

The Internet is a fabulous resource for businesses. For example, I could conduct a Google search for “social media policy” and fine some wonderful results, including an online database of 164 real-world examples. Because of the Internet’s easy access to information, it creates a strong temptation for businesses to do-it-themselves when it comes to policies and forms.

Not all websites, however, are created equal. Just because you find something on the Internet does not mean that its legal. Take, for example, Pre Employment Medical Questionnaire, which has at least 8 different questions that violate the ADA:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • Are you under any medication?
  • Are you under any medical supervision?
  • Have you ever suffered from an ailment that resulted in an absence from work?
  • Please indicate the total number of sick days you took out in the past year?
  • Have you ever been admitted in hospital?
  • Do you suffer from any medical condition that could hamper your sight, hearing, coordination or other sensory ability?

(For good measure, it also asks for employees’ dates of birth, which would constitute unlawful age discrimination, and height and weight, which could have a disparate impact based on sex).

The website says, “During the recruitment process most companies require to find out the medical history of all prospective employees.” Trust me, the only companies that ask for this information from prospective employees are those that want to find themselves on the losing end of a disability discrimination lawsuit. When searching the Internet for DIY policies and forms, do yourself and your business a favor and run them by employment counsel before using them. One 15 minute consultation could save you years in court and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.