Can a employer (fire dept) require employees to pass a health assessment if it was not required at the time of hire?

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Can a employer (fire dept) require employees to pass a health assessment if it was not required at the time of hire?

In other words, a fit for duty test. It wasn’t required when hired 15 years ago but now they are saying everyone has to pass if you don’t you are terminated. Problem is I have heart defect I was born with so pretty much if found which it will be they could come back and say I’m not fit and term me. Is there anything I can do since its a defect I was born with and not something I control?

Asked on December 11, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) No law says that an employer can't impose a health assessment or fitness test later; there's no requirement that it only be at the start of employment or not at all.
2) If you don't have an employment contract (a written one), you are an employee at will and, with very few exceptions, may be fired at any time, for any reason.
3) One of the exceptions is that an employer may not terminate someone simply for having a medical condition. But they can terminate if the employee cannot safely do the job due to the condition. So say you are IT, or a clerk, or an accountant, or customer service, etc.--a heart defect does not pose any particular risk and they should not be able to terminate you But say that you are a delivery person for furniture, a utility lineman, a paramedic or other first responder, or a warehouse staffer who must be able to move heavy objects or pallets--in those cases, if the defect materially (to some significant degree) raises or increases the risk of you having a heat attack, stroke, etc., then they likely could terminate you, since the employer is not required to take a credible risk of an employee dying on the job, which can expose the employer to liability and, in some cases, endanger other employees (e.g. if you were carrying something heavy with another and then collapsed suddenly).


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