If your organization has a wellness plan for employees, then you’ll be interested in a class action lawsuit the AARP Foundation filed Tuesday against Yale University.
That lawsuit, filed on behalf of Yale workers, alleges that the university’s employee wellness program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act because it “forces certain of its employees and their spouses to either submit to medical exams and disclose personal health information and family medical history or pay heavy financial penalties,” according to the foundation.
“Under federal law, disclosing medical and genetic information and test results in workplace wellness programs must be voluntary,” AARP Foundation Senior Vice President of Litigation William Alvarado Rivera said in a statement. “Workers should have the freedom to choose whether to divulge personal health information in the workplace, as Congress intended.”
Specifically, the AARP Foundation said, Yale’s Health Expectations program requires approximately 5,000 union employees and their spouses to submit to medical tests and allow release of all of their insurance claims data to multiple wellness vendors — or pay a fine of $1,300 per year.
In an industry centered on caring for older adults, it’s older workers who are most at risk by revealing such information, according to AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. That’s because they are more likely to have disabilities and medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Employees who allow their employers and others to access their private medical information could be fired, not hired, or discriminated against in other ways based on their health history, the foundation said.
“And it hits low-income workers the hardest,” Ryerson said. CNAs, anyone?
A Yale spokeswoman said in a statement that the university does not comment on pending litigation. But the AARP and AARP have been down this road before. In October 2016, AARP successfully sued the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to invalidate federal wellness rules that allowed employers to penalize workers for keeping their health information private.