Can I be required to take a psychiatric exam?

I posted on my company’s blog my opinion about the group that protests at military funeral that they should be executed for doing it. My company found out and wants me to take a ‘fit for work’ evaluation with a psychiatrist. Should I go? Do I have to? Thank you.

Ann Kiernan replies:

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employees can be required to get a fitness for duty exam—mental or physical– only if it is “job related and consistent with business necessity”. There are a number of cases that hold that employees who make violent statement and threats can legally be required to submit to such an examination, to see whether or not they pose a true danger to themselves or others. The cases also hold that employees who refuse can be fired for cause. See, e.g., Kao v. Univ of San Francisco, 229 Cal.App.4th 437 (2014) (professor who made threats and refused to go for psych exam held properly terminated for insubordination)

So, go to the examination. And, by the way, while I agree that those funeral protests are odious, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the group has a First Amendment right to protest on public property. Snyder v. Phelps, 562 U.S. 443 (2011).

Posted 08-13-2018

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.