Pre-employment medical testing

Medical conditions, including drug and alcohol dependencies-as well as perceived medical conditions and dependencies-are forms of disability within the meaning of the Alberta Human Rights Act (AHR Act). Human rights law prohibits discrimination based on disability. In general, testing for a condition that is a physical or mental disability is allowed only where the disability would prevent an applicant or employee from carrying out the key duties of their job and the condition cannot be accommodated. Employers have a duty to accommodate persons with disabilities to the point of undue hardship. You can read more about the duty to accommodate.

Medical examinations

It is acceptable for an employer to require a job-related medical examination only when necessary after a conditional offer of employment. A medical examination should only be required if there are no other reasonable ways for the employer to determine the ability of the applicant to perform the key duties of the position. Human rights law supports the use of the least intrusive means possible by an employer to meet a business purpose acceptable under the AHR Act.

Examinations that are not related to the job or the ability of the candidate to perform the job are not acceptable. For example, a personality test or psychological examination may screen out a candidate with a mental disability. Such testing is not acceptable unless the employer can demonstrate that the disability would prevent an applicant from performing the key duties of their job.

Information obtained from medical examinations should be restricted to information that impacts the applicant's ability to perform the key duties of the position. The applicant is also responsible for providing the employer with sufficient information about their accommodation needs to enable employers to assess a full range of accommodation options.

Employers are responsible for protecting the privacy of all information related to medical testing. For example, normally it would not be necessary to share a new employee's test results with his or her direct supervisors. This may help employers prevent possible complaints of discrimination.

Related resource

Alberta Human Rights Commission information sheet Drug and alcohol dependencies in Alberta workplaces

Revised: March 15, 2010


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