Fitness for Duty Evaluations (FFDE)

A psychological Fitness for Duty Evaluation (FFDW) is typically employer driven and is initiated when an employee may be unable to safely or effectively perform their job functions and it’s reasonable to believe the cause could be ascribed to a psychological impairment or condition. It’s important to remember that a FFDE is DIFFERENT than a Pre-employment psychological evaluation, a stand alone clinical evaluation, or other types of forensic evaluations (like Worker’s Compensation). A FFDE is typically initiated for an employee that’s already been employed but his/her behavior has become troublesome. Some examples might include the following: 1) an employee has a history of good conduct but there’s a sudden onset of hostility, irrational speech, withdrawal, or isolation; 2) allegations of unexplained or excessive use of force; 3) threats of violence; 4) the employee displays behavioral problems that suggest difficulty with effectiveness or judgment; or 5) reports of bizarre off duty behavior. According to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), there are some conditions that allow the employer to initiate this type of examination of an employee. Notably, an employer can require a medical examination “as long as the examination or inquiry is shown to be job related and consistent with business necessity…or that an individual not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace.” (ADA, Title I). After evaluating the employee, a psychologist can determine, that due to a psychological condition, it is reasonable to believe that the condition may prevent the employee from safely and effectively performing the essential functions of the position held by the employee. Alternatively, if the psychologist feels this standard is not met, the employee will be deemed able to return to their duties.