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EEOC Says Asking for Health Stats Violates ADA

July 29 2009 | by

Asking an employee to disclose health information before joining a health-insurance plan could be against the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to The Wall Street Journal.

More employers are requiring employees to fill out health-risk assessments, or HRAs, if they want to be eligible for the company’s health plan. These surveys include questions about workers’ habits, personal health and family medical histories.

Employers, who typically subsidize 70 percent to 80 percent of healthcare premiums, want to ensure that workers are taking all the necessary steps to manage their health and use the HRA results to plan employer-sponsored wellness programs, such as smoking cessation and weight-loss courses.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency that protects ADA policy in the workplace — and can initiate lawsuits on the behalf of employees — says that although the EEOC hasn’t taken a formal position, they believe “that [such a] proposed policy would violate provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

That ADA requires any questions about disabilities or medical exams “to be job-related and consistent with business necessity,” the office noted.

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