PUBLISHING & EDITORIAL
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT,
PUBLISHING & MEDIA
Jessica Perry | Jessica. Perry@shrm.org
VICE PRESIDENT, EDITORIAL
Tony Lee | Tony.Lee@shrm.org
Christina Folz | Christina.Folz@shrm.org
Desda Moss | Desda.Moss@shrm.org
John Scorza | John.Scorza@shrm.org
Dori Meinert | Dori.Meinert@shrm.org
COP Y DESK MANAGER
Gretchen Kraft | Gretchen.Kraft@shrm.org
Erin Binney, Natalie Kroc | Erin.Binney@shrm
Allen Smith, J.D., Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D.,
SHRM-SCP | Allen.Smith@shrm.org,
Kathy Gurchiek, Roy Maurer, Stephen Miller,
CEBS, Beth Mirza, Dana Wilkie, Aliah Wright
DESIGN & PRODUCTION
DIRECTOR, CREATIVE SERVICES
Jenny Mazer | Jenny.Mazer@shrm.org
John R. Anderson Jr. | John.Anderson@shrm.org
SENIOR DESIGN SPECIALIST
Mari Adams | Mari.Adams@shrm.org
Julia Tylor | Julia. Tylor@shrm.org
Kathy Jackson | Kathy.Jackson@shrm.org
ADVER TISING SALES
VICE PRESIDENT, ADVERTISING
SALES & MARKETING
Tim Canny | Tim.Canny@shrm.org
Ask a SHRM HR Knowledge Advisor
One of our older employees needs to lift objects and climb
ladders on the job but has vision and balance problems.
Can we require him to undergo a medical exam?
Yes, if the worker is having difficulty performing his essential job functions and there
is a legitimate business necessity for the exam. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also allows employers to require an assessment if
the employee poses a direct threat to his own safety or that of
When determining whether a medical test is
necessary, focus on whether the worker is
performing his core tasks at an acceptable level compared to co-workers in
similar occupations with comparable experience and job-related skills,
without regard to age or perceived
If he is and you can’t identify a
direct safety threat, don’t hold the
worker to a higher standard based
on his age alone—or to a lower one
either, for that matter. You are not
required to reduce your expectations of job performance because
someone is older.
If you suspect a medical exam is
necessary, first determine whether
you can offer a reasonable accommodation to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm.
If you can’t, consider additional factors before
making the final call, including the:
• Duration of the risk.
• Nature and severity of the potential danger.
• Likelihood the potential harm will occur.
• Imminence of the threat.
For example, how often is Bob required to use the ladder? Is that an essential part
of his job? If so, how likely is it that he will fall and hurt himself or others?
Proactive employers can take steps to prepare the workplace for aging workers.
For example, train managers, provide ergonomic workplaces and remove risks such
as tripping hazards. In some situations, a medical exam might be the best way to
ensure the safety of all your employees.
—Regan Gross, SHRM-SCP