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Wellness programs are now commonplace in companies throughout the nation. In most cases employees are asked to submit to screenings of various health measures including body-mass index and cholesterol, in exchange for a financial incentive. Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took action against a United State’s business on the basis that the program discriminates against employees.

In this case, workers who declined to participate allegedly might face surcharges and lost incentives of up to $4,000, next year. The agency claims the program violates several antidiscrimination laws including the:

  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act.

As readers may be aware employers there are only two of multiple things employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on.

This is not the first time that the EEOC has taken action against an employer in conjunction with wellness programs. In the past, one worker was fired after refusing to take part in a wellness program, and another’s insurance was cancelled.

This particular action was prompted at least in part by the discrimination charges filed with the EEOC by two employers of the business. The EEOC’s fear that the compulsory program’s rewards and penalties may be so great that workers will not have a choice regarding participation, could have contributed to its decision to take action as well.

While the business facing the EEOC claim, Honeywell International Inc., is based in another state, since incentive plans are popular throughout the nation, it is likely that employers in the state of New York will be watching to see how the matter is resolved.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Wellness Program at Honeywell Faces Test EEOC to Challenge Companies’ Health Screenings,” Lauren Weber, Oct. 29, 2014

Ricotta Marks

Ricotta & Marks, P.C.

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