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Involuntary wellness program in violation of ADA

On Aug. 20, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against a Wisconsin company for how it handled its company wellness program. The lawsuit alleges that a woman who was employed by Orion Energy Systems, Inc., was retaliated against and then fired for not participating in the program. According to the EEOC, the company's policy regarding the wellness program was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit alleges that Orion fired one of its employees one month after she opted out of the company wellness program. The program would have required the employee to submit to non-job-related medical exams that included blood draws. When the woman inquired as to whether or not she had a choice in the matter, her managers told her to get rid of her 'attitude" concerning the wellness program.

Before the woman was fired, she was forced to pay a total of $463 to cover her health care insurance premium for the month and a $50 fee. The EEOC has stated that a wellness program is not in compliance with the ADA unless it is completely voluntary. If workers are penalized for non-participation, the program can no longer be called voluntary.

Companies commonly offer wellness programs as a way to reduce health care expenses. According to the EEOC, there is a real potential for the programs to undermine the rights of disabled employees. If workers feel that they have been unfairly penalized for non-participation in the program or fired as a result of their medical test results, they may want to contact an attorney about their potential remedies.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, " Latest News Legal & Business Insights Tax & Accounting Environment, Health & Safety Human Resources EEOC Alleges Orion Energy Violated the ADA By Firing Worker Who Declined Wellness Plan", Kevin McGowan, August 25, 2014

Source: Bloomberg BNA, " Latest News Legal & Business Insights Tax & Accounting Environment, Health & Safety Human Resources EEOC Alleges Orion Energy Violated the ADA By Firing Worker Who Declined Wellness Plan", Kevin McGowan, August 25, 2014

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