February 6, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 37

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February 03, 2023

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Seventh Circuit to Review Wellness Program Under Americans with Disabilities Act

Employers with incentivized wellness programs should keep a close eye on the Seventh Circuit’s treatment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of a plastic-maker’s policy that requires medical exams as part of its voluntary wellness program. Previously, a federal court in Wisconsin ruled that the employer’s policy – which required enrolled employees to answer medical history questions, have blood drawn, and have their blood pressure measured – came within the ADA’s “safe harbor” provision because the employees were not at risk of losing their jobs if they refused.

The EEOC disagrees with this interpretation and has filed a notice that they will appeal the decision to the Seventh Circuit. The agency argues that the ADA bars such medical examinations because they are not job-related, and that the allegedly onerous financial consequences of not taking the tests (paying their own premiums) mean that it is not really “voluntary.” The company counters this argument by stating that employees do not face discharge by not taking the tests and (apart from smoking information), it receives the medical information only in aggregate form, which it uses to help administer the plan and calculate costs. The district court viewed this administrative tie-in as an important point in upholding the policy.

By my recollection, this is the first circuit court to address the hot-button issue of wellness programs and their interaction with the ADA. Stay tuned to BT Currents for further updates.

© 2023 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 60
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About this Author

R. Holtzman Hedrick, Labor and Employment, Barnes Thornburg, Law firm
Associate

Holt Hedrick is an associate in the Indianapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg, where he is a member of the firm's Labor & Employment Law Department. Mr. Hedrick's practice focuses on a wide range of issues within the scope of labor and employment law, including discrimination suits, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and employer consultations. Mr. Hedrick also has extensive experience as a commercial litigator, including defending companies against class actions, mass torts, federal privacy statutory claims, and breach of contract/warranty claims. Mr. Hedrick practices before...

317-231-6438
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