I'll admit I don't have a lot of hard-core manufacturing experience. That's why I had one of those "What the..." moments when I read that a Black and Decker plant uses their pre-employment screening package to determine, among other things, whether production candidates have a high probability to develop carpel-tunnel syndrome via the required job responsibilties.
From CNN's Coverage:
Breehne, who applied for a job last year at a
Black & Decker plant in Jackson, Tenn., that manufactures Porter Cable brand power tools, said in a court filing that he was offered the job contingent on passing a medical exam.
A company doctor stimulated forearm nerves that control hand muscles and concluded it would be inappropriate for Breehne to work in a "highly wrist- sensitive job," the filing said.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also challenged the tests, which aren't uncommon in manufacturing settings, on ADA grounds. The agency lost a federal lawsuit in 2001 against
Rockwell Automation Inc. (ROK) after that company denied jobs to 72 applicants at an Illinois plant.
The EEOC believes the test doesn't reliably predict the likelihood of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, or whether it would pose an imminent threat to the person's safety,
Chris Kuczynski, assistant legal counsel and director of the ADA policy division at EEOC, told The Baltimore Sun."
Wow. "Company doctors stimulated forearm nerves that control hand muscles" kind of caught me off guard. My first thought is that, positioned the right way, this could be spun as some sort of spa treatment. My next thoughts are the obvious ones for a HR person and more grounded in reality. Is having weak hand and forearm muscles a disability and covered by the ADA? If the employee can do the job today but is simply more probable to develop a condition down the road, can you eliminate them from consideration? Should the companies using these type of tests conduct them pre-offer, so it becomes one of 10-20 hiring criteria?
So, today, it's testing to limit liability that can be caused by a specific job activity. With health care becoming more and more expensive, does tommorrow bring testing to see if the company can afford to provide medical coverage to the candidate in question?
Just need you to get on the treadmill after the second round of behavioral interviews. Don't worry, we'll do it last and then you can go. If you break 20 minutes in the 5K, there's a signing bonus involved....