EEOC Final Rules on Employer Wellness Programs Become Effective January 1, 2017

Many employers offer health promotion and disease prevention strategies, often referred to as workplace wellness programs, not only to improve employee health and productivity, but also in an attempt to reign in health care insurance premiums. Employers seek to incentivize employees to participate in such programs, but cannot violate federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on health status, disability, and genetic information, or the dissemination of personal health information, to do so. To harmonize these competing interests, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued final rules (the "Final Rules") on how employer-provided wellness programs can simultaneously comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).