“Crummy” case provides painful lesson regarding Employer medical inquiries

This week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that an employer violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act by requiring that an employee provide medical information about dyslexia, when the employee had not requested an accommodation and there was no evidence that the condition was impacting the employee’s ability to do his job. The employer argued that it terminated the employee (named Crummy) because he was insubordinate in not providing the records. Not surprisingly, the court found reason to be “fundamentally flawed,” and discriminatory; an employee is not being insubordinate by refusing to provide records that an employer is prohibited from receiving by operation of law.

The case is also significant in that the appellate court upheld the district court’s doubling Crummy’s damages. In all, the employee received three years of back pay that was then doubled by the court, leading to a monetary recovery of over $500,000, plus attorneys’ fees. A painful lesson to employers; be extremely careful when requesting information about employees’ medical conditions. This area is a potential minefield of liability for employers.

Contact me for more information. The case is Crummy v. Enterprise Minnesota, Case No. A11-703, (Minn. Ct. App. Feb. 6, 2012).