Passing a pre employment MRI test? Is this pass/fail? Is this legal?

Came across this add… How can a MRI be required per employment procedure? Any comments from the more legally savvy?

Offshore Staffing Services of Acadiana, LLC
has immediate need for

Boat Captains
Conventional & Utility Boats
500 ton or 1600 ton

MUST HAVE these requirements:
Twic, safe gulf, huet water survival, merchant marine(z-card), stcw, passport, FCC radar, GMDSS, etc.

Must be able to pass a neck and back MRI, background check, drug screen and physical

Come grow with us!
Proudly at our new facility
255 Rousseau Road
Youngsville, LA 70592


Applicants can apply in person or online at


Equal Opportunity Employer

I had to do a pretty thorough strength test prior to taking a job a few years back, made me go to a physical therapy clinic and go through a full round of machines and measured tests, followed that by an intense physical including full back xrays to make sure I didnt have any pre-existing injuries. I just figure its a good way to ensure for the company you dont claim an injury after your first trip out and get workers comp?

It is illegal. They can only give medical tests or ask medical questions after an offer of employment.

I don’t think it’s illegal, they have made you the offer but is contingent on you passing the physical. I had to do an MRI X-rays and a stress test for my current job.

I don’t think that is what it says. It states: you must PASS these tests. They don’t specify that you must pass the test to apply.

I highly doubt a company is going to front the money for an MRI unless they know that is who they want to hire. It basically saves them legally. If you have a problem, but can still work, they may still hire you, but you cannot sue over a pre-existing condition. If the MRI shows that it might be dangerous for you to work, then they have the right to not let you work. I’m pretty sure that its not illegal. Besides, it is no worse than some companies doing hair drug testing and sharing the results through a third party with other companies!

The upside is that an MRI has no radiation…

I am currently taking a human resources management class so I’m especially interested in this subject. We just covered ADA. Medical tests and questions in the pre offer stage of the process are taboo. This is a recruitment ad and so is part of the pre offer stage of employment. I suppose that they are just disclosing that if offered a job you would have to pass an mri, but the way it is worded would have the effect of discouraging someone with a disability from applying and could be considered discrimination.

Chile Caliente, do you have a link to the original ad? I would like to email my professor and see what she thinks.

You have stumbled upon one industry that is NOT susceptible to ADA enforcement. An employee who meets a USCG physical CANNOT have many of the disabilities which would make them handicapped (thus protected under Ada)! Many of the non physical descriptions of Ada compliance (eg. Drug and medication use) further eliminate hiring in this field.

A short list of conditons that can make someone FAIL a USCG physical: mobility. (Wheelchair, or crutches). Previous injury which may preclude mobility. Prescription drug use (depending upon what the medication is). Any heart condition (whether treated or not). Ability to climb stairs actually described as a near vertical ladder (while carrying 50 pounds). And ability to steady themselves upon a moving floor (deck)

So you may find this industry does not meet the ‘norm’ of compliance with the rest of the nations Ada requirements.

There is no seaman exemption from ADA like there is to many other labor laws. ADA does not prevent the coast guard or other government agencies from requiring physical fitness standards. Similarly, a company can require a physical if it is a business necessity. Business necessity usually means it is required to do the job and not because its cheaper or more convenient for the company. Someone doesn’t have to be in a wheel chair to have a disability. Under Ada a disability is an impairment that affects one or more major life functions. All though the uscg physical screens out most disabilities, one could imagine someone with a neck or back problem that is not severe enough to fail a CG physical, but still affects one or more life functions. If this theoretical person was offered a captain job at this company and then denied after the mri, then the company would have to show why this captain couldn’t do the job without a reasonable accommodation. It’s possible this company is just using the mri to find a pre existing condition for insurance reasons and not to screen people out. I still question whether it was a good idea to put the “must pass an mri” language in the recruiting ad, but my HR training is that I am three weeks into an undergrad human resources class which means I don’t know jack s#*t!

King of like requiring a benzene test before employment.

They can only give medical tests or ask medical questions after an offer of employment

It looks like a standard ad to me. Most companies required the same thing. The MRI just makes it a more in depth physical than most.