EEOC Issues Proposed Rule on Employer Wellness Programs

On April 20, 2015, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a proposed rule that would amend the regulations and interpretive guidance implementing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they relate to employer wellness programs. The proposed rule amends the ADA regulations to provide guidance on the extent to which employers may use incentives to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs that include disability-related inquiries and/or medical examinations. The EEOC will accept public comments on the proposed rule until June 19, 2015, following which final regulations will be issued.

The EEOC has released a series of 10 questions and answers which outline the issues at hand, define terms involved in the proposed rule, and explain how wellness programs interact with regulations such as the ADA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other federal nondiscrimination laws.

Employers do not have to comply with the proposed rule at this time; however, until final regulations are formulated, employers should take a careful look at their wellness programs to ensure compliance with the ADA, as many of the requirements set forth in the proposed rule are already requirements under the law.

At this time, employers should not:

  • Require employees to participate in a wellness program.
  • Deny health insurance to employees who do not participate in a wellness program.
  • Take any adverse employment action or retaliate against, interfere with, coerce, or intimidate employees who do not participate in wellness programs or who do not achieve certain health outcomes.

Further, employers should ensure that all employees are equally able to participate in any wellness programs or incentives offered, and that those employees needing reasonable accommodations to participate are offered those accommodations.

 

ThinkHR will continue to monitor and report on developments in this area.

About Rick Montgomery, JD

Rick Montgomery is ThinkHR’s Managing Legal Editor and oversees the creation and management of ThinkHR’s online resource library. He is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of experience writing HR compliance related content.