Functional Capacity Evaluation Lawful For Safety Concerns

                               Asheville, NC (CompNewNetwork) - Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers have reason to be cautious about demanding a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). A recent ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that when legitimate safety concerns exist the demand for an exam was lawful and could not be the basis of a claim for disability discrimination.


In James v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the court ruled that Goodyear had a valid reason to demand the FCE of James who suffered from progressive multiple sclerosis. Goodyear had received several reports from coworkers and union representatives concerning James' safety. While James opted for medical retirement with disability benefits rather than submitting to the FCE, James sued claiming violations of the ADA as a result of the company's request that he undergo a functional capacity evaluation, and alleged that the test was an adverse employment action.


Goodyear sought a ‘direct threat assessment' to determine the potential for harm and the imminence of such harm.    The 6th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of James' lawsuit and held that “a valid [functional capacity evaluation] demand cannot constitute an adverse employment action under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

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This material is provided as general information and is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice.

Kevin Ring is the Director Educational Programs for the Institute of WorkComp

Professionals, the Asheville, NC-based organization that trains insurance agents to help employers reduce Workers' Compensation expenses. A licensed

insurance agent, he leads workshops, analyzes Workers' Comp programs and is the co-developer of a Workers' Comp software suite that helps insurance professionals in working with employers. He can be contacted at 828-274-0959 or

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