What Employers Need to Know Regarding Employee Wellness Programs and the American with Disabilities Act

Robert W. Small, Partner in Reger Rizzo & Darnall’s Employment Practices Group, recently authored an article for The Legal Intelligencer entitled, EEOC Answers Some Questions About Wellness Programs.You can read the full article online here.

As employee medical insurance costs continue to increase, many employers have developed “Wellness Programs” designed to encourage employees to engage in a more active, healthier life-style. Many employers offer weight loss, smoking cessation, and stress management programs, just to name a few. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) promotes such plans, many employers have soon realized that their plans were challenged by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as being in violation of the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Acts (GINA), because the plans either did, or could, be administered to discriminate against employees with disabilities or to make use of medical information in ways not countenanced by GINA.

On April 16th, the EEOC published Proposed Regulations which, if adopted, will give employers guidance on how to create and administer Wellness Programs that do not contravene the ADA and GINA. The comment period on the proposed rulemaking ends on June 19, 2015. Employers that have or anticipate adopting Wellness Programs should familiarize themselves with the proposed rules and consider whether making comment on them to the EEOC is in their interest.