The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) restricts what employers can ask about use of drugs
prescribed for you. The ADA applies to all employees.
Pre-Employment Inquiries
Under the ADA, employers cannot ask potential new
hires:
• Questions about their history of prescribed drug
use, before they offer a job to the applicant.
Employers can ask potential new hires:
• If they can perform all the job duties stated in the
job description.
■ The applicant is required by law to notify the
employer of any prescribed drugs they may be
taking that have side effects which can affect their
job duties. For many jobs, that includes drugs
where labels say, “May Cause Drowsiness” or
suggest caution when using heavy machinery
(which includes driving).
After the Job Offer, Before
Employment Begins
Once a potential new hire completes the interview
process and is offered a job, an employer can ask the
employee:
• Health-related questions, including questions on
use of prescribed drugs.
This can only be done if all employees at the
same job status are required to answer the same
questions. These questions can be asked even if
they do not relate to the job’s function.
• To get a medical examination and submit their
results to the company.
Under the ADA, it is illegal for employers to
discriminate against potential new hires based
on prescribed drug use history unless the person
could not start the job, even if the employer
has made reasonable accommodations for that
person’s position.
During Employment
Employers cannot ask employees:
• About their prescribed drug use unless the side
effects of the drugs directly affect their job function.
Employers can ask employees:
• Health-related questions if they have learned from
a third party that an employee’s job functions will be
impaired due to prescribed drug use or be a direct
threat to safety.
• To take a medical examination.
Employers do not get access to employee’s full
medical records, just the outcome of the medical
examination.

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