April 23, 2015

On Monday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) published much anticipated proposed regulations amending Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulations on employer wellness programs. Specifically, the EEOC provides guidance on how employers can legally incentivize employees to participate in wellness programs that include disability-related inquiries and/or medical examinations.  Generally, in order to fit into the “voluntary” exception to the ADA’s prohibition on medical exams and disability-related inquiries, employees may not be required to participate in a wellness program, and they may not be denied health coverage or otherwise disciplined if they refuse to participate. Employers also may not interfere with their ADA rights, or threaten, intimidate, or coerce their employees for refusing to participate in a wellness program or for failing to achieve certain health outcomes.

This week’s EEOC publication clarifies that the ADA does not prohibit employers from providing incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs.  Under the proposed EEOC rules, employers may offer incentives up to 30% of the total cost of employee-only coverage in connection with wellness programs. Wellness programs that must now be analyzed for acceptability under the ADA would include only programs requiring either a medical examinations or disability-related inquiry (e.g., a health risk assessment or biometric screening), or both.

To read the full alert, click here.