EEOC Regulations

EEOC Regulations are those regulations stated under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Such regulations benefit both employers and employees in keeping. Employers generally offer two types of wellness plans, including participatory wellness plans and health-contingent wellness plans. Wellness plans are voluntary, meaning that employers cannot require or penalize those employees who don’t wish to participate.

Participatory wellness plans. These plans provide neither financial incentive nor any other reward for participation.

Health-contingent wellness programs. These programs require employees to complete an activity or achieve some sort of outcome that is health-related. This means that the program is either an “activity-only plan” or an “outcome-based plan.”

Regardless of which plan the employer chooses to utilize, all employers must adhere to the federal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ADA was passed in 1990 in an effort to prevent discrimination in the workplace based on a disability. Similar to the ADA, GINA pertains to wellness plans and provides an exemption that allows employers to request health information for those employees participating in a voluntary wellness plan. The ACA governs wellness plans and permits employers to offer incentives for participation in wellness plans that doesn’t exceed 30 percent of coverage costs. The ACA limits health-contingent wellness plans, but it does not limit participatory wellness plans. Moreover, the ACA can require the Secretary of Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to increase the incentive for health-contingent plans to as much as 50 percent of coverage costs.

EEOC Training

EEOC training can include everyone in your company, including the HR department. Anyone involved in the hiring, training, supervising, and benefits process will also be required to undergo EEOC training. Some training includes:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

  • ADA

  • Equal Pay Act (EPA)

The EEOC training institute offers one- or two-day seminars to discuss the overall EEOC regulations. This includes potential violations that a company may not realize it’s engaging in so that employers are aware of such violations and prevent such actions from occurring. This may include illegal questions being asked during the interview process.

Generally, employees working in the HR department will attend these trainings and subsequently share the information learned with the company. Since the trainings are usually surrounding diversity in the workplace, it is best to have a few HR professionals representing the company attend the seminar(s) or training so that they not only share information with the company, but also create additional training for employees, which will be an added level of EEOC understanding throughout the workplace.

The seminars are offered both online and in-person in Washington, D.C. Notably, some states have their own EEO laws in addition to EEOC regulations. Such laws will provide additional protection on top of the EEOC regulations.

EEOC Policies

EEOC policies offer a way to support companies in their promotion of diversity. Companies can utilize the EEOC policies to create diversity training for employees. The EEOC policies are umbrella policies that cover all rights and responsibilities for employers to adhere to regarding complying with ADA, ACA, GINA, and HIPAA. The company policy should also support those with disabilities, pregnant women, gender equality, and paternity leave; it should also provide a generous maternity leave policy to retain female talent, and contain additional parental leave policies.

While such EEOC policies will include the rights and benefits of equal employment across all lines, it will also need to address a no tolerance rule for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. This can include workplace retaliation, sexual harassment, and other harassment based on disability, race, origin, etc. Along with issues of harassment come problems with discrimination. Under Title VII, discrimination based on race, gender, sexual preference, national origin, age, and disability are illegal.

EEOC Current Rules

On May 16, 2016, the EEOC amended its regulations to define the extent to which the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) permit employer-sponsored wellness plans. The EEOC wanted to harmonize the ADA’s requirement that medical inquiries and examinations are voluntary as well as encourage participation from employees.

The reason for amending was to make an attempt to overreach those regulations set forth in the ACA and HIPAA since these regulations provide higher incentives. The final EEOC rules allow employers to provide incentives to employees who participate in such wellness programs.

While the ADA and GINA only allow incentives up to 30 percent, ACA and HIPAA regulations calculate the incentive amounts based on the cost of coverage, and provide that up to 50 percent of an incentive can be provided. Therefore, the EEOC final rule permits no additional incentives on top of the 30 percent threshold.

Generally, most employers offer wellness programs designed to help improve the health of their employees as well as prevent disease. Some programs will provide that employees engage in certain medical tests, including testing one’s blood sugar, blood pressure, height, weight, and additional biometric screening to determine one’s health risk. Other factors that could be used in such programs include an employee’s cholesterol level, body mass index (BMI), and blood glucose.

Keep in mind that the ADA and GINA usually prohibit employers from obtaining medical information from employees. However, such questions may be asked if in terms of a wellness program. So long as the employer can prove that the screenings and medical information are being primarily used for the wellness program to improve the employee’s overall health, then such screening is appropriate. Also, the plan must not be overly burdensome causing any other violations of the laws.

The EEOC also requires that employers safeguard the information of employees, including all health-related information. Such health and medical information can only be provided to the company based on broad percentage and numbers in order to display the level of improvement throughout the program. Moreover, the ADA requires that employers specify to their employees what type of medical information will be collected for the purposes of the program.

GINA provides additional factors, including consent provisions for genetic and health services provided to employees. Such provisions apply to all employer-sponsored wellness programs.

Employers should visit the EEOC website to ensure conformity with the rules, as well as conformity with the rules under the ADA, ACA, HIPAA, and GINA. While wellness plans and programs are a great benefit for both employers and employees, such programs must be lawful and provide transparency to all employees wishing to participate in the programs.

It may also be a good idea for employers to speak to a qualified attorney who can assist with the creation of an employer-sponsored wellness plan. An attorney can ensure that there are no illegalities or violations. These types of programs should be welcome in the workplace and not feared by employers who are unsure if they can abide by all the requirements of running a program.

If you need help learning more about EEOC regulations, or you wish to speak to a qualified attorney about creating a wellness program, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.