Employers have been accused of using workplace wellness programs as a way to learn about the medical histories of their employees. Lawmakers in Congress have introduced legislation that some claim could make privacy issues with these programs more problematic. According to opponents of the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, the bill would allow employers to incentivize workers into coughing up their genetic test results. It may also allow medical condition discrimination.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employees can receive a 30 to 50 percent discount on employer-provided health insurance premiums for participating in wellness programs. If an employer required genetic testing as part of its wellness program, employees who did not participate could pay hundreds or thousands more each year.
Genetic tests show information such as an employee’s risk for developing cancer or other diseases. They may show family-related illnesses, such as schizophrenia or other mental health disorders. Results from these tests could be accessible by employers so long as the results were linked to wellness programs.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 bars employers from forcing employees to submit to genetic testing. The law also bars employers from using genetic testing information to discriminate against employees. Opponents of PEWP claim the new bill will remove these protections.
Do Workers Harmed by Medical Condition Discrimination Have Options?
Depending on the circumstances, workers who experience discrimination for having medical conditions may have legal options. Workers with disabilities may be able to file claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Los Angeles employment law attorneys at the Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob can help these workers explore available options.