ADA: Pre-Employment Inquiries

HR & Safety


An employer may ask a job applicant:

  1. About his/her ability to perform specific job functions, tasks, or duties, as long as these questions are not phrased in terms of a disability;
  2. To describe or demonstrate how he/she will perform a job, with or without an accommodation;
  3. With a known disability that might interfere with or prevent performance of job functions to describe or demonstrate how he/she will perform a job, with or without an accommodation, even if this is not required of other applicants;
  4. With a known disability that would not interfere with or prevent performance of job functions to describe or demonstrate how he/she will perform a job if this is required of all other applicants;
  5. How he/she would perform the job with an accommodation, and with what accommodation, if the applicant has indicated an accommodation would be necessary;
  6. Whether he/she is currently using alcohol or illegal drugs.


An employer may not ask a job applicant:

  1. Whether he/she has a disability;
  2. About the nature, severity, or cause of the disability;
  3. About the prognosis or expectations regarding the disability;
  4. Whether he/she will need treatment or special leave because of the disability;
  5. To take a medical examination or answer any medical inquiries regarding a disability prior to making a conditional offer of employment.
  6. Whether he/she is a drug addict or alcoholic, or whether he/she has even been in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program;
  7. About his/her workers’ compensation history before making a conditional offer of employment.

Examples of Questions You Should NOT Ask:

  • Have you ever had or been treated for any of the following conditions or diseases? (Followed by a checklist of various conditions and diseases.)
  • Please list any conditions or diseases for which you have been treated in the past three years.
  • Have you even been hospitalized? If so, for what condition?
  • Is there any health-related reason you may not be able to perform the job for which you are applying?
  • Have you had a major illness in the last five (5) years?
  • How many days were you absent from work because of illness last year? (Pre-employment questions about illness may not be asked, because they may reveal the existence of a disability. However, an employer may provide information on its attendance requirement and ask if an applicant will be able to meet these requirements.)
  • Do you have any physical defects that preclude you from performing certain kinds of work? If yes, describe such defects and specific work limitations.
  • Do you have any disabilities or impairments that may affect your performance in the position for which you are applying? (This question should not be asked even if the applicant is requested in a follow-up question to identify accommodations that would enable job performance. Inquiries should not focus on an applicant’s disabilities. The applicant may be asked about ability to perform specific job functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation.)
  • Are you taking any prescribed drugs? (Questions about use of prescription drugs are not permitted before a conditional job offer, because the answers to such questions might reveal the existence of certain disabilities which require prescribed medication.)
  • Have you even been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism? (Information may not be requested regarding treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, because the ADA protects people addicted to drugs who have been successfully rehabilitated, or who are undergoing rehabilitation, from discrimination based on drug addiction.)
  • Have you ever filed for workers’ compensation insurance? (An employer may not ask about an applicant’s workers’ compensation history at the pre-offer stage, but may obtain such information after making a conditional job offer. Such questions are prohibited because they are likely to reveal the existence of a disability. In addition, it is discriminatory under the ADA not to hire an individual with a disability because of speculation that the individual will cause increased workers’ compensation costs.)

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