Finance News & Insights

What is going on with the EEOC’s wellness rules? Breaking down recent court rulings

Recently, two courts have handed down rulings in regards to whether the EEOC’s rules for incentives violate the ADA and GINA. But the rulings have left many Finance pros with more questions than answers.

Everything stems from AARP v. EEOC. In the case, the AARP argued that the 30% incentive that the EEOC regs allow ran counter to the “voluntary” requirements of the ADA and GINA.

Reason: Workers who can’t afford to pay a 30% premium bump would essentially be forced to give up protected info they wouldn’t have chosen to disclose otherwise.

In the first pro-AARP ruling, a federal court asked the EEOC to reconsider its rules on wellness incentives under the ADA and GINA, and it expected the agency to move swiftly with its response.

Not timely enough

A judge specifically asked the EEOC to reconsider the regs “in a timely manner.”

The EEOC responded by saying it didn’t expect to issue new proposed regs until August 2018, with final rules likely by August 2019 and an effective date of early 2021.

Because of that timeline, the court wasn’t too happy with the agency’s efforts.

As a result, it “vacated” – i.e., voided – the wellness rules that pertain to incentives and the ADA and GINA beginning on Jan. 1, 2019. In vacating the rules, the court said the timeline wasn’t “timely” enough.

The court also said it would “hold the EEOC to its intended deadline of August 2018” for the new rules.

Judge overstepped his authority?

Now, that August 2018 deadline was at the center of the second and most recent court ruling regarding the EEOC’s wellness regs.

A separate district court said the judge that, among other things, vacated the EEOC’s wellness regs, may have overstepped its authority in some areas.

At issue in this latest ruling was the manner in which the EEOC reworks its own rules.

In the initial ruling against the agency, federal judge John D. Bates said the EEOC must notify the public by August 31, 2018, if it plans to amend the EEOC wellness regs. The EEOC claims it should be within its policy-making discretion to choose whether it will rework the rules and on what schedule it will do so.

A court agreed with the EEOC and released it from the Aug. 31 requirement in the previous ruling.
Despite this victory, the ruling that “vacated” – i.e., voided – the wellness rules that pertain to incentives and the ADA and GINA beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, will stay in place.

Plus, the EEOC must still file a status report with the court by March 30, 2018, the court said.

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