Skip to comments.EEOC: Obamacare ‘Workplace Wellness’ Programs Neither Voluntary Nor Legal
Posted on 12/03/2014 7:04:56 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
(CNSNews.com) The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed corporations to reduce their health care costs by rewarding employees for voluntarily participating in workplace wellness programs to help them lose weight or stop smoking.
But now three of those programs are the target of discrimination lawsuits by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which says they are neither voluntary nor legal.
EEOC recently filed its third wellness lawsuit, claiming that Honeywell International, Inc.s ACA-approved wellness program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Honeywell recently informed employees and their spouses who were enrolled in the companys health benefits plan that they would have to undergo biometric testing, including a blood draw, to be screened for smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions. The information would then be used to set goals to reduce their medical risk factors.
But employees who refused to take the biometric tests would be penalized up to $4,000 in lost benefits and additional surcharges.
According to the EEOC complaint, the proposed medical testing is not voluntary, and therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The testing imposes penalties on employees whose spouses do not provide their medical information, and therefore violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
Honeywells biometric testing is not voluntary, nor is it intended to determine whether the employee can perform the essential functions of their jobs or pose a direct threat to the health or safety of themselves or others, the EEOC noted, adding that there is no remedy for unwarranted, unwanted and unlawful medical examinations. (See eeoc-v.-honeywell.pdf)
EEOC also accused Flambeau Inc., a plastics manufacturing firm in Wisconsin, of violating the ADA by cancelling the health insurance of an employee who refused to submit to biometric testing and charging him the entire premium amount while employees who had the tests done only had to pay 25 percent.
In August, EEOC filed a similar lawsuit against Orion Energy System for firing an employee who objected to the companys voluntary wellness program.
Having to choose between responding to medical exams and inquiries -- which are not job-related -- in a wellness program, on the one hand, or being fired, on the other hand, is no choice at all," said EEOC regional attorney John Hendrickson.
In a Nov. 14th letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Business Roundtable president John Engler expressed his strong disappointment with the EEOC for taking actions against large employers who are complying with the requirements of Obamacare.
It is a shameful day when well-intentioned and well-informed reliance on regulations, driven by the good will of employers to offer positive, innovative programs to their employees, can result in litigation, Engler wrote on behalf of Business Roundtable members, who are CEOs of some of the largest companies in the U.S. and provide employer-based insurance coverage for over 40 million Americans.
Although workplace wellness programs were designed to reduce health care costs for employers by helping employees adopt healthier lifestyles, they do not appear to be catching on.
More than 85 percent of large companies with 1,000 or more employees offer a workplace wellness program, but only 60 percent of their workers are aware of it, and only 24 percent choose to participate in it, according to Gallup.
Nanny State vs. Nanny State PING!
Where I work one now must give a health reason when calling in sick. The company insists in order to protect wellness in certain groups.
yessir the healthcare/industrial complex is trapping us!
Its all about getting paid!!!!
My sister works for an insurance company. They do this. If she participates, she gets 10% off her premiums. So, she does it. There are also plans that give “awards” for the wellness programs.
I'll continue to abuse my body as I see fit!
I'm just really worried that my CO2 output (ie. breathing) might kill all the children...
Seems they are now targeting the elder workers who smoke.
When I worked for a corp, most of the sickos were the young moms and usual slackers. The smokers just did their jobs and felt happy.
This is probably the first time I have supported the EEOC.
The state of Wisconsin plan offers a “reward” for doing various screenings etc. Not a discount, but they will get a check.
When Obamacare was passed, Democrats poo-poo conservatives when they said it would be used to force people to do things against their will and would penalize them if they didn’t.
Companies that are obeying the law are violating the law. Enough to put a grin on any bureaucrat’s face.
“Where I work one now must give a health reason when calling in sick.”
Everyone should call in and say that they have a minor case of bubonic plague. I wonder what the statisticians would make of that.
Your CO2 levels are fine. Your methane output looks a little high, however.
Do ‘Wellness’ programs give rewards to gays for abstaining from unsafe sex practices which spread degradation and disease?
Yeah. I didn’t THINK so.
“Companies that are obeying the law are violating the law.”
What I want to know is, if the EEOC wins, can all employees who have been “wronged” sue? This might get interesting...
“Don’t get mad. Get even”.
Chip away at this unconstitutional POS until it becomes “No Child Left Behind”...
If it is truly voluntary, with no consequences other than higher insurance premiums, then I think the EEOC should pound sand.
But, if people are truly being fired for not participating, then the employers may have a problem. But, Congress will have to pass legislation making that an unacceptable reason for termination.
My atate is at-will. Neither employee or employer has to give a reason for termination. Only the “protected” factors are not allowed: race, sex, etc. if you are a white male,even those are effectively nullified.
Thatl leaves only one thing: refusing to do something illegal.
A lot of legal problems with this.
However, I am a dedicated health “nut,” which I do not consider nutty at all. Last weekend, I was part of a miscellaneous group presented by two health professionals. AS the undisputed OLDEST member of that group, I was also the healthiest, the most limber, agile, and the only person not taking prescription drugs.
. I attribute this to very good health habits over a lifetime. VERY good. I know for a fact that healthcare costs would drop dramatically if more people practiced prevention. How will that happen? I’m not really against employer-sponsored programs.
So throw me out of FR. I’ll bounce.
“The state of Wisconsin plan offers a reward for doing various screenings etc. Not a discount, but they will get a check.”
No, they can’t hide behind that, because that money would have gone to your health insurance anyway. The books will be opened and this shouldn’t be difficult to prove. You can bet your last nickel that most employers used Obamacare as a smokescreen to reduce costs anyway - by reducing benefits (mostly spectacularly raising the deductible) and then covering it up by blaming that bad man Obama.
Most company-provided insurance at this point would be the 1985 equivalent of what was then called “catastrophic insurance”. It certainly is a catastrophe.
Great post in a great thread. Totalitarianism/socialism/fascism with a not-so-happy-face BUMP! Monitoring your “wellness” ALERT!