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Is it legal for an employer to ask a nurse to submit to a hearing test ?

Tuesday February 21, 2012
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Is it legal for an employer to ask a floor nurse to submit to a hearing test and to provide documentation that the test was performed?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Donna,

It's challenging for me to respond to this type of question without knowing all the details leading up to this request. Generally speaking, if hearing well is a requirement for the job you are currently doing, it may be within an employer's legal rights to request the test, if they are concerned you are not able to do your job due to a hearing impairment. If you were found to have an impairment, it doesn't give them the right to fire you (you do have some protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act), but more likely they would have to provide accommodation for you on the job or find a more suitable position for you.

Here is online information published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Americans with Disabilities Act related to hearing impairment that you may find helpful: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.html and

I recommend you contact a nurse attorney or your state labor board for additional advice on this issue and to fully explore and protect your rights. You can find the labor board online. Find a nurse attorney by asking around, or through your state chapter of ANA, any nursing association (whether or not you are a member), or through The American Association of Nurse Attorneys. (http://www.taana.org)

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.