Employers are turning more and more to preventative wellness programs to keep down their employee’s eventual healthcare costs, including biometric screenings to determine early risk factors. But when those screenings are mandatory, and incentivized through sanctions for opting out rather than rewards for opting in, does that cross the line into violating employee’s privacy? Has the employer overstepped its role as a healthcare payor?
That’s the question that’s at stake in a Minnesota lawsuit, filed last week against Honeywell by the Chicago-based Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing employee discrimination laws. The suit alleges that Honeywell’s employee wellness program can cost employees up to $4,000 in surcharges and lost HSA funds — $2,000 of which is referred to as a “tobacco surcharge” — if they and their spouse refuse to undergo a biometric screening that includes a blood test. They say that this violates both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act. (Although genetic testing is not involved in Honeywell’s program, the EEOC claims that requiring spouses to be tested constitutes an unlawful demand for family medical history.)
Honeywell called the lawsuit frivolous in a public response that stressed their programs’ compliance with two other federal programs — the Affordable Care Act and HIPAA — while not directly addressing the complaints about the ADA and GINA. Keep reading>>