Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: Can my job give incentives based on health? Do I have to disclose my health history to my boss in order to get benefits? Can my employer increase my premiums because of my disability?
Recently, as a result of encouragement created by Affordable Care Act (ACA) and an overall emphasis on wellness in America, employers have implemented a growing number of wellness programs for their employees. Workplace wellness programs typically include things like: nutrition classes, onsite exercise facilities, weight loss and smoking cessation programs, and/or coaching to help employees meet health goals. Wellness programs also may incorporate health risk assessments and biometric screenings that measure an employee’s health risk factors, such as body weight and cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels. Additionally, these programs are often characterized by having employees complete different milestones or activities that are geared towards showing that an individual employee is making a conscious effort to either maintain or improve their overall health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also stated that wellness programs can increase productivity by reducing the amount of days called in sick and increasing overall morale in the workplace.
Although it seems like there are nothing but positives with wellness programs, there have been some questions about the legality of the programs as they apply to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“) and possibly the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA“). The wellness programs usually mandate testing or monitoring disabilities or else risk forfeiting an incentive, being penalized by paying significantly higher premiums than their co-workers, or in some cases being completely denied the opportunity to enroll in the employer’s insurance plan.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC“) saw this as potentially being a slippery slope that would allow employers access into the more private details of an employee’s disability or genetic information and force employees to comply by penalizing them for not participating in the wellness programs. The EEOC has filed disability discrimination lawsuits in several instances arguing that workplace wellness programs have the potential to violate portions of the ADA by creating a situation where an employee may be forced to disclose details of his or her disability and submit to involuntary medical examinations.
Specifically, the EEOC has argued that the wellness programs violate Section 102(d)(4)(B) of the ADA, which states the following:
(4) Examination and inquiry
(A) Prohibited examinations and inquiries
A covered entity shall not require a medical examination and shall not make inquiries of an employee as to whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
(B) Acceptable examinations and inquiries
A covered entity may conduct voluntary medical examinations, including voluntary medical histories, which are part of an employee health program available to employees at that work site. A covered entity may make inquiries into the ability of an employee to perform job-related functions.
Information obtained under subparagraph (B) regarding the medical condition or history of any employee are subject to the requirements of subparagraphs (B) and (C) of paragraph (3).
Additionally, the EEOC has issued a proposed rule for amendments to regulations under the ADA with the purpose of clarifying and providing guidance on the extent that employers can use incentives in wellness programs to create a culture of wellness within the workplace.
While the EEOC continues to try to clarify the parameters of workplace wellness programs, our employment discrimination attorneys will continue to monitor the law so we remain at the forefront of any new developments. If you believe that the wellness program your employer has implemented has resulted in you being discriminated against based on your disability or genetic information, contact our employment attorneys immediately for a free and confidential consultation.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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