Another Wellness Program Challenged by EEOC (article)
Following in the foot steps of a challenge discussed in last month’s Benefit Beat article, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has again raised an objection to the protocols of an employer’s wellness program. Most recently, the Chicago EEOC office filed a similar challenge, this time against a Wisconsin-based manufacturer.
According to the EEOC news release, employees are required to undergo biometric testing and a health risk assessment as part of a wellness program sponsored by Flambeau, Inc. Failure to complete these tests would result in cancellation of the individual’s health coverage wherein the employee would then be required to pay full premium in order to reinstate his/her health coverage, as well as potential disciplinary action for not attending the scheduled testing. The EEOC maintains that the requirements to obtain the testing and assessment are not job-based nor a business necessity in violation with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Thus far, we don’t have results of these complaints but it is very important that employers be aware of the potential risks. What is important, from an EEOC perspective, is to ensure any collection of medical information and potential participation in the wellness program, be truly voluntary. We could certainly use guidance from the EEOC on how it defines “voluntary”. Perhaps the resolution of these complaints will guide us. This is a very volatile time for wellness programs. While as a general premise they are supported, there is much that needs to be resolved.
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