Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) limits an employer's ability to ask disability-related questions or to require medical examinations at three stages of employment: pre-job offer, post-job offer, and during employment. This publication provides information regarding the limitations on disability-related questions at the pre-offer stage. This stage includes job applications and job interviews.
What is a disability-related question?
A disability-related question is a question that is likely to elicit information about a disability. On the other hand, if there are many possible answers to a question and only some of those answers would contain disability-related information, that question is not disability-related.
What questions can employers ask at the pre-offer stage?
In general, employers cannot ask disability-related questions at the pre-offer stage. This means that employers cannot directly ask whether an applicant has a particular disability. It also means that employers cannot ask questions that are closely related to disability.
Why does the ADA prohibit pre-offer disability-related questions?
In the past, some employment applications and interviewers requested information about an applicant's physical and/or mental condition. This information was often used to exclude applicants with disabilities before their ability to perform the job was even evaluated. As a result, Congress established a process within the ADA to isolate an employer's consideration of an applicant's non-medical qualifications from any consideration of the applicant's medical condition.
For additional information, visit Pre-employment Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Exams (EEOC guidance).
The following are some examples of permissible and impermissible pre-job offer questions under the ADA:
- Are you able to perform the essential function of the job you are seeking, with or without accommodations?
- Do you have any physical or mental impairment that would keep you from performing the job you seek?
- What physical or mental impairments do you have that would affect your job performance?
- Can you meet our attendance requirements?
- How many days were you absent from your last job?
- How many Mondays or Fridays were you absent last year on leave other than approved vacation leave?
- How many days were you sick during your last job?
History of Injury
- How did you break your leg?
- Do you break bones easily?
- Do you expect the leg to heal normally?
- Are you currently using illegal drugs?
- Have you ever used illegal drugs?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- How often did you use illegal drugs in the past?
- Have you ever been addicted to drugs?
- Have you ever been treated for drug addiction?
- Have you ever been treated for drug abuse?
- Do you drink alcohol?
- Have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol?
- How much alcohol do you drink?
- Have you ever participated in an alcohol rehabilitation program?