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Local Governments and School Districts Blog

EEOC Challenges Wellness Program

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on September 16, 2014
Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

In a recent complaint filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the EEOC has challenged a wellness program administered by a Wisconsin company. Under the wellness program employees were asked to complete a health risk assessment, including questions regarding medical history, and were required to complete certain blood work. In addition, the health risk assessment included a test on a range of motion machine in the physical fitness room at the work site.

The legal challenge involved one employee who refused to complete the wellness program. Allegedly, when this employee refused to complete the program, the employee was charged a full premium for the health insurance coverage and ultimately was terminated from employment for making complaints about the wellness program. Importantly, one of the legal challenges also questioned whether the wellness program was truly voluntary and did not have any type of business justification for mandatory participation.

Many local government employers have implemented wellness programs to address health care costs. Extra caution must be used to make sure the wellness program is voluntary and the local government employer does not compel participation by doing such things as imposing a requirement of paying 100% of the health insurance premium if the employee does not participate in the wellness program. Evidence has shown that wellness programs can address health care costs and assist an employer in regulating some of the cost of health care for its employees. Employers must be careful, however, they do not violate the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act by penalizing an individual who does not actively participate in a wellness program.