Court Orders EEOC to Reconsider Wellness Rules

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reconsider its final wellness rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

The final rules allow employers to offer wellness incentives of up to 30 percent of the cost of health plan coverage. The court held that the EEOC failed to provide a reasonable explanation for adopting the incentive limit. Rather than vacating the final rules, the court sent them back to the EEOC for reconsideration.

It is unclear how the EEOC will respond to the court’s decision. Due to this new legal uncertainty, employers should carefully consider the level of incentives they use with their wellness programs. Employers should also monitor any developments related to the EEOC’s rules.

Final Wellness Rules

Federal laws affect the design of wellness programs, including two laws that are enforced by the EEOC, the ADA and GINA.

For many years, the EEOC did not definitively address whether incentives to participate in wellness programs are permissible under the ADA and, if so, in what amount. Earlier this year, the EEOC issued long-awaited final rules, but the court has now remanded the final wellness rules back to the agency for reconsideration.

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