Reconciling health privacy and employer wellness rewards

The Obama administration and the EEOC issued rules in May for employers for setting up employee wellness programs that reward workers and protect their health privacy.

“The commission worked to harmonize HIPAA’s goal of allowing incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs with … provisions that require that participation in certain types of wellness programs is voluntary,” said Jenny R. Yang, chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The new rules also work to fight against discrimination based on existing health conditions.

However, there are disagreements on the part of EEOC and various companies when it comes to screening programs which are voluntary. A 2014 dispute between the EEOC and Flambeau, a plastics manufacturer is ongoing. The company required certain wellness screenings, which the EEOC contested was a violation of the ADA. A federal judge ruled in favor of Flambeau and the EEOC appealed the ruling. The issue at hand is whether these screenings be voluntary. It can be challenging to reconcile screenings that determine whether an employee is capable of work requirements and not discriminating against disabled individuals.

The Pre Employment Screening experts at WorkSTEPS seek to keep in line with Federal requirements and can help your screening comply with these laws. Get in touch with our functional capacity evaporators by calling (512) 617-4100.

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