EEOC's Regulatory Agenda Anticipates Wellness Program Rules in February
- December 12, 2014
Last month, federal agencies released their semiannual regulatory agendas. The agendas list the rules in progress for the various agencies, along with anticipated dates of issuance. New additions or shortened timeframes can signal the agencies’ regulatory priorities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s agenda includes a target date of February 2015 for issuance of new rules intended to reconcile employer-sponsored wellness programs with the antidiscrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Wellness programs have been the subject of recent lawsuits by the EEOC alleging that they unfairly penalize employees who decline to participate in health risk assessments or chronic disease management programs.
Employers have roundly criticized the EEOC for suing employers on the one hand, yet failing to produce guidance as to what is and what is not considered to be an unreasonable penalty. The inclusion of this topic in the EEOC’s regulatory agenda for 2015 can be seen as a response to this criticism. The EEOC previously set 2014 as the anticipated date for issuance of these rules, but as with many federal regulations, the deadline was not met. However, the inclusion of an anticipated publication date so soon in the future may be an indication that the EEOC is prioritizing this issue.