Physical Abilities Testing causes legal problems? Overruled!

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 15, 2017 2:06:57 PM / by ErgoScience

When it comes to pre-hire physical abilities testing (PAT), it appears the legality of the PAT is one of the top concerns and can sometimes be a perceived barrier to implementation.

In reality, the PAT that conforms to ADA, EEOC and OFCCP standards is completely legal and defensible. Recently, ErgoScience President Deborah Lechner presented a live webinar for the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Learn@ASSE professional development offerings titled, "Pre-Hire/Post-Offer Physical Abilities Testing: A Risk Management Strategy for Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries." After a well-attended session, many of the attendees’ questions focused on the legal do’s and don’ts of pre-hire PAT, and what employers can do to ensure their testing is legal.

Here are some of the questions posed by webinar attendees:

Q. Are there any states in the U.S. that do not allow the use of pre-hire physical abilities testing?

A. No, the use of pre-hire PAT is permitted in all 50 states

Q. How much can you ask on a pre-employment medical questionnaire?

A. Employers are very limited in what they can ask, and clinicians’ questions must focus on issues relevant to the physical abilities test. Musculoskeletal injuries, neurological deficits, cardiovascular issues, etc., are all situations that can create safety issues for the person taking the test, so it is legal for clinicians to discuss these issues with the job applicant.

Q. Can pre-hire PAT lead to discriminatory issues?

A. Actually, a pre-hire PAT can reduce the risk of an employer being accused of discriminatory practices when the test is customized to match job demands, administered consistently, and is objective, reliable and valid. PATs can and must be designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs guidelines.

There are some additional legal considerations to take into account. We are happy to offer more information on hiring smart – and legally – with the use of pre-hire Physical Abilities Testing. Call Lane Savage at 205-879-6447, ext. 224.

We have blogged about this topic extensively as well. Read the following for more guidance:

Is Our Physical Abilities Testing Program Legally Compliant?

Post Offer Employment Testing: What Can Employers Legally Do?

The ADA and Physical Abilities Testing: What You Need to Know

Pre-Employment Physical Abilities Testing: The Devil's in the Details

To learn more about the benefits of PAT via the ASSE webinar, visit:

Topics: News, Legal Issues, Physical Abilities Tests


Written by ErgoScience