New Bill Aims to Tackle EEOC Involvement in Wellness Programs
It’s no secret that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) decisions are often cause for questions and anxiety from employers nationwide, leading many companies, including some of your clients to question if the EEOC is going too far in some cases. Your clients are increasingly facing a high number of Employment Practices Liability Risks simply by conducting their business; including claims of discrimination, harassment, FMLA violations, unfair pay, and more. The latest challenge to employers nationwide has been the EEOC’s involvement in company wellness programs.
The EEOC certainly does play a role in implementing wellness programs; as part of their job is to ensure that no discrimination is taking place, they aim to ensure that wellness programs do not violate the ADA or other acts or bills designed to eliminate discrimination. Basically, the EEOC questions a wellness plan that may appear to reward one participant while punishing another. As a result, many business owners are facing backlash and even lawsuits for wellness programs they’ve implemented with good intentions in mind.
A new GOP bill has been introduced, that according to the news source The Hill, will “clarify the legality of the programs and ‘eliminate confusion’ caused by the EEOC lawsuits.” This bill seeks to set specific legal standards for the wellness plans that would be unaffected by the EEOC’s rules and regulations. The EEOC has been filing complaints and lawsuits regularly over the last couple of years in response to any sort of persuasion of employees designed to allegedly ‘force’ them to participate in wellness programs, from tobacco screenings to biometric and body mass testing.
An example of a wellness programs structure that the GOP is trying to defend is allowing participants who quit smoking or maintain healthy cholesterol levels eligibility for receiving plan premium reductions of as much as 50%. The EEOC says something like this can be illegal, if that same wellness plan was to impose financial penalties on those employees who don’t comply with certain aspects of the plan.
At PLRisk Advisors, we understand the challenges your clients face when developing wellness plans while staying compliant with the EEOC’s regulations. We offer comprehensive Employment Practices Liability Insurance coverage in addition to Professional Liability Coverage, and more. Please contact us today for more information at (855) 403-5982.