Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finally final: Rules offer guidance on how ADA and GINA apply to employer wellness programs - EMPLOYER LINC

by Judy Burdg
Originally published: June 14, 2016

On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) finalized two rules that describe how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to wellness programs offered by employers. The rules provide guidance on the extent to which employers may offer incentives to employees to participate in wellness programs that ask them to answer disability-related questions and/or undergo medical examinations. Until recently, employers had been primarily focused on the HIPAA and Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules related to wellness programs while they anxiously awaited the EEOC’s final rules and guidance on the ADA and GINA considerations. There are important differences between the HIPAA/ACA rules and the ADA/GINA rules, which employers should review very carefully.

ADA final rule

Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of a disability. It also generally restricts employers from obtaining medical information from applicants and employees; however, it does allow employers to make inquiries about employees’ health or conduct medical examinations that are part of a “voluntary” employee health program.

To comply with the ADA final rule, employers offering wellness programs that ask employees to respond to disability-related inquiries and/or undergo medical examinations should ensure their wellness programs meet the following requirements: