Ask the right questions

Exercise caution when asking applicants or employees about disabilities

Roofing contractors seeking to hire good workers often inquire whether it is permissible to ask applicants about their abilities to physically perform essential job functions associated with roofing work. The concern is that asking these types of questions may disclose an applicant has a disability. Roofing contractors want to avoid a discrimination claim involving an applicant who is not hired for an available position and then alleges he or she was discriminated against because of a disability disclosed during the interview process.

The law also is sensitive to this concern, so it is important to know which questions are appropriate and when you can ask them.

Pre-offer stage

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may ask disability-related questions and require an applicant to undergo medical examinations only after the employer has given the applicant a conditional job offer. A "disability-related question" is a question likely to elicit information about a disability. When conducting an interview—and before a job offer is made—employers may not ask job applicants about a disability's existence, nature or severity.

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