I am increasingly convinced that contradictory regulations that make it impossible even for people of goodwill to be in compliance are a feature, not a bug of the current system.
…Common sense dictates that any medication that carries with it a warning that it “may cause drowsiness” or that the patient should “use caution” if operating machinery may pose a risk in the workplace. It is for this reason that many employers adopt a policy requiring employees to self report the use of prescription pain killers. This is especially important in potentially dangerous workplaces such as manufacturing and construction.
In a recent action that defies common sense, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken the position that such policies are unlawful under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits an employer from conducting “medical inquiries” without a business reason to do so. In EEOC v. Product Fabricators, Inc., an action in federal court in Minnesota, the EEOC required a manufacturing employer to abandon its policy of encouraging employees to inform supervisors if they are under the influence of narcotic pain killers such as Vicodin. The EEOC took the position that an employer cannot ask about prescription pain killer usage unless it has “objective” evidence that an employee is impaired on the job.
This places employers in a very difficult position….
Walter Olson also has comments at the link.
Several observers, including Megan McArdle, said that I was too harsh when I wrote this in a post about pre-employment screening:
I understand that this is exactly what the Left is shooting for "“ an environment where the competent have no advantage over the incompetent. If employers are resorting to FICO scores, it just demonstrates how all the other reasonable avenues of obtaining information have been closed to them.
Unreasonable? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. From the US EEOC site:
There is no Federal law that clearly prohibits an employer from asking about arrest and conviction records. However, using such records as an absolute measure to prevent an individual from being hired could limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and thus cannot be used in this way....
Even if the employer believes that the applicant did engage in the conduct for which he or she was arrested that information should prevent him or her from employment only to the extent that it is evident that the applicant cannot be trusted to perform the duties of the position when
- considering the nature of the job,
- the nature and seriousness of the offense,
- and the length of time since it occurred.
Several state laws limit the use of arrest and conviction records by prospective employers. These range from laws and rules prohibiting the employer from asking the applicant any questions about arrest records to those restricting the employer's use of conviction data in making an employment decision.
This means that a company cannot, according to the EEOC, maintain a blanket policy of, for example, never hiring anyone convicted of murder or bank robbery. Just take that as your happy thought for the day next time you are snuggling up for bed at night in some hotel, wondering if you are in a state where the hotel was allowed to screen its night-time employees for felonies.
My sense is that the Left is shooting for employment based on paper qualifications rather than perceived capability. I wrote before that the Left has cheered on tort actions that have almost shut down the provision of job references. Or look at civil service or schools. Hiring is based on minimum qualifications (e.g. possessing the correct teaching degree) rather than ability. Promotion is based on seniority rather than performance. Every grievance system ever invented makes it almost impossible to fire employees even for cause, much less for performance shortfalls.