Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Stick to the Basics in Fitness for Duty Exams. (ADA Employment Cases)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Stick to the Basics in Fitness for Duty Exams. (ADA Employment Cases)

Article excerpt

RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF. -- Psychiatrists called upon to perform a "fitness for duty" mental examination on an employee need to remember three things: Do your homework, maintain objectivity, and honor the employee's privacy, said James J. McDonald, an employment attorney for the Irvine, Calif.-based firm of Fisher and Phillips.

One of the biggest mistakes he sees psychiatrists make is that they sometimes examine an employee cold, without having reviewed all relevant materials, including a current job description; the employee's personnel file; police reports; and medical, psychiatric, and psychological records, he said at the annual meeting of the American College of Forensic Psychiatry.

It often helps to remember that employers seek a fitness for duty examination only for a limited number of reasons, which may include:

* A claim that the employee has behaved in a violent fashion, perhaps posing a danger to himself or others.

* The assertion that a mental disability has made an employee no longer capable of performing essential functions of a job.

* Doubt about an employee's claim that he or she is capable of safely returning to work after a disability-related leave of absence. …

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