Judge Orders EEOC to Reconsider Its Wellness Rule

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A federal judge has granted summary judgment to the AARP in its suit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over the latter’s May 2016 wellness rule concerning company-run wellness programs.

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Aug. 22 issued a memorandum, siding with the plaintiff’s argument that the EEOC did not explain the reasoning behind wellness plan compliance obligations with respect to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

The judge wrote:

This case deals with the incentives—financial or otherwise—that may be offered to employees in connection with employer-sponsored wellness programs, which have become popular in many work places in the last several years as a means of promoting employee health and reducing healthcare costs. The central issue here results from the tension that exists between the laudable goals behind such wellness programs, and the equally important interests promoted by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). EEOC is tasked with reconciling these competing concerns, and this case arises out of its most recent attempt to do so.

The judge also had a problem with wellness programs’ being termed “voluntary” when the wellness rule allows companies to offer an incentive of 30 percent of participants’ health care premiums.

The EEOC now must reconsider its regulation.
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