The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has requested that the United States District Court of Minnesota stop Honeywell from implementing a wellness program that would provide financial incentives for undergoing biometric screenings. The EEOC is challenging Honeywell’s program on grounds that it would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). The EEOC’s request is a surprising development because, as recently as last year, the EEOC stated that it has not taken a position on whether and to what extent providing a financial reward to participate in a wellness program violates the ADA. In addition, EEOC staff have not previously given any public indication that providing incentives to spouses for participating in a wellness program violates GINA. Consequently, many employers provide financial rewards to encourage participation in wellness programs up to the limits permitted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). Employers that offer financial rewards (or impose financial penalties) for participation in wellness programs that request medical information or involve medical examinations should take note of this development.
Update: On November 3, 2014, the District Court judge denied the EEOC’s request.