This article should be of interest to anyone who currently has a Wellness Program or is thinking of putting such a program in their business or organization. It appears the EEOC is taking a strong position on applying the ADA to workplace wellness programs. The playing field is changing. Bruce Calvin.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently filed lawsuits against two Wisconsin companies that underscore the need for more clarity on rules that govern employers’ use of financial incentives to motivate employee participation in workplace wellness programs.
Legal experts say the lawsuits — in which two private companies are accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act — are the most concrete indication yet of the EEOC’s position on applying the ADA to workplace wellness programs.
“The EEOC is obviously sending out a broad message that blanket requirements for all employees regarding wellness programs are going to be looked as analogous to blanket requirements for criminal background checks or credit checks, in that they’re viewed as a punitive measure that could disparately impact a certain class of employees,” said Ricki Roer, a New York-based partner at law firm Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker L.L.P.
However, Ms. Roer said, the suits illustrate a more complex and largely unaddressed conflict between the EEOC’s enforcement of workplace nondiscrimination laws and federal rules enacted earlier this year under the health care reform law encouraging employers to use results-based incentives to drive better health management among their employees.