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Can you question your employee's medical documentation?

As an employer in Los Angeles, you likely want to do all that you can to ensure that your staff members are able to complete their jobs to their utmost abilities. Oftentimes, due to a disability caused by an injury or existing medical condition, an employee may tell you that he or she needs certain accommodations to continue working. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires you to make such accommodations. Yet doing so can have an impact on your business. Thus, the question becomes whether you are required to accommodate an employee for his or her stated disabilities without medical documentation supporting his or her claims?

The answer to this question depends on whether or not the documentation submitted is sufficient to justify an accommodation. The sufficiency of one's medical records may be subjective, with an employee telling you that what he or she has given is all that you need to see and any further requests for more information would be a violation of his or her privacy rights. Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has established a standard regarding this very issue.

According to EEOC, medical documentation is not considered to be sufficient when:

  •          The clinician who issued it does not have the requisite expertise to comment on a person's condition
  •          The documentation does not specify the functional limitations one's disability imposes
  •          Factors are present indicating that the documentation may be fraudulent

Remember that you are allowed to meet with an employee's doctor (with his or her consent) to confirm the need for an accommodation. You can also request that your employee see a doctor of your choosing if his or her initial documentation is deemed insufficient.

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