Wellness programs in the workplace are generally based on the belief that as employees lose weight, stop smoking, eat more healthfully, and lower their cholesterol, their employer will reap a drop in absenteeism and health care costs. With that hope in mind, employers are often willing to offer a financial reward to encourage employees’ participation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has long been concerned about whether the financial reward offered makes such wellness programs “involuntary” such that the wellness programs fail to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and/or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). Previous S&J blog posts have reported the EEOC’s actions with respect to wellness programs over the years, including the EEOC’s issuance of final ADA and GINA regulations addressing wellness programs. Those regulations have been challenged in court by the AARP, and you can expect changes in the regulations as a result. This post will bring you up to speed on the litigation and what you should watch for going forward.
While autumn is generally a mirthful season of crisp weather, beautiful colors, and tasty s’mores, it also serves as the harbinger of one of the most dreaded yearly seasons – flu. With experts predicting that this flu season could be a severe one, employers are understandably worried about the safety of their employees and clientele. Over the past several years, many employers have implemented mandatory flu vaccination programs for their employees. If you have implemented, or are considering implementing, such a program, read on for tips you should consider.
HIV infection is a disability under the ADA. What rights and responsibilities does an employer have in relation to HIV-positive applicants and employees? The EEOC recently clarified its position concerning HIV-positive individuals in the workplace in a press release, as well as documents addressing the rights of HIV-positive workers, including the right to be free from discrimination and harassment, and guidance to physicians in facilitating accommodations for those individuals.
On May 17, 2016, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an ADA Final Rule amending applicable regulations and interpretive guidance implementing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and a GINA Final Rule, under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), clarifying how the ADA and GINA Rules apply to employer wellness programs. In addition, the EEOC issued a Q & A document for each new rule, ADA Rule Q & A and GINA Rule Q & A, addressing key questions about each rule’s applicability and implementation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”) sought to broaden the scope of protection for disabled individuals which had been available under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by expanding the definition of “disability.” “Disability” is defined under both the ADA and ADAAA as “(i) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life’s activities; (ii) a record of such impairment; or (iii) a condition regarded as an impairment.” Subsequent to the passage of the ADAAA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued regulations to provide guidance under the Act. According to these regulations, the “definition of the term ‘impairment’ does not include physical characteristics such as …weight… that are within the ‘normal range’ and are not the result of a physical disorder.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) provides that “[n]o covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a). Discrimination includes “not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless the covered entity can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business of such covered entity. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A).
When dealing with their employees’ needs for accommodations due to religious, disability, or family leave reasons, it’s necessary for employers to know some personal information about their employees. But, simply asking for information can be considered a violation of certain employment laws. What’s an employer to do?
Recently, the EEOC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would amend the regulations implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) as they relate to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. This NPRM related to GINA is an encore, of sorts, to the regulations the Commission proposed earlier this year in the area of wellness programs as they related to the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act.
According to a 2011 publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Mental illnesses account for a larger proportion of disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.” The study noted that an estimated 25% of adults self-reported a mental illness at a projected economic cost of $300 billion as of that date.