WELLNESS RULES IMPLEMENTATION NEARS, SPURRING REQUEST FOR DELAY

 

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AARP has sought a delay of final wellness rules issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because of fears that employers would target older workers.

The rules will allow employers to use financial inducements to get employees to participate in workplace wellness programs. 

AARP sued EEOC to delay the effective date of the rules (AARP v. EEOC, D.D.C., No. 16-2113, complaint filed 10/24/16).

The lawsuit filed by AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for persons 50 and over, is the first challenging EEOC’s Americans with Disabilities Act rule and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act rule, both released in May, allowing employers to offer limited incentives for wellness plan participation.

“Coercive wellness programs leave workers vulnerable to employment discrimination and stigma based on disability or genetic information,” Dara Smith, AARP Foundation attorney told Bloomberg BNA, Oct. 25. 

“AARP opposes these programs because older workers are more likely to have the very types of less-visible conditions and disabilities that are at risk of disclosure through compulsory medical inquiries and exams, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and depression,” Smith said.

“The EEOC’s new rules enable employers to coerce employees into divulging this sensitive information, despite the ADA’s and GINA’s protections from this sort of pressure,” she added.

Request for Preliminary Injunction  

In its lawsuit, AARP said the EEOC rules violate the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as the ADA and GINA provisions that protect employees from involuntary disclosure of their health and genetic information. 

Thus, AARP has asked the federal district court to issue a preliminary injunction that would block the EEOC rules, which are slated to begin taking effect on Jan. 1, 2017, pending resolution of legal issues.