Company Wellness Program Wins First Round

A U.S. District Judge in Minneapolis denied The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) request for an injunction against Honeywell, Inc. over their health screening policy that requires medical testing for employees and covered spouses by saying she “did not believe that Honeywell’s program would pose ‘irreparable harm’ to participants.”

Honeywell’s Wellness Program

Honeywell’s wellness program screens workers for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood-sugar levels, waist circumference and nicotine. Employees who fail to complete the testing are subject to monetary fines and lost contributions to health plans of up to $4,000.

Federal law bans employers from obtaining the personal health information of individual employees, but employers can use combined data to design programs to target specific health problems that can increase employer and employee health care costs.

The EEOC contends that the penalties make the testing involuntary and therefore violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

According to Honeywell, the policy promotes employee wellbeing and reduces healthcare premiums for healthy employees.

“We don’t believe it’s fair to the employees who do work to lead healthier lifestyles to subsidize the healthcare premiums for those who do not.”

The Decision

The District Judge stated, “What is better public policy and who is likely to succeed are not measures this court is prepared to decide…There are a number of fascinating issues for debate at a later time.”

The EEOC will continue to examine the charges the employees have filed against Honeywell.

Workplace Bullying – Who is responsible?

Incidents of workplace bullying are on the rise, but what do you do when the offender isn’t an employee? Who is responsible?

Such a case was recently brought to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp. Freeman states that while she worked for Dal-Tile, she was subject to harassment, inappropriate racial remarks, and sexual comments from an independent sales representative employed by a distributor to Dal-Tile. Freeman brought the situation up with the assistant manager and Human Resources. Although Dal-Tile prohibited Koester from communicating with Freeman they continued to allow him on the premises. The Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of Freeman citing that Dal-Tile Corp knew of the harassment and failed to take prompt remedial action.

The Workplace Bullying Take-Away

Employers are responsible for all bullying activity that occurs on company property under the course of routine business operations. If you have a bully in your midst – even if the offender is not directly employed by your company – it’s inbest interest of your company to take the matter seriously and begin corrective action immediately.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is defined as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. Although anti-bullying legislation is being introduced in states such as Massachusetts (H.1766), critics claim that this legislation will encourage frivolous lawsuits and imply that some may sue because someone was ‘mean to me’ or someone ‘doesn’t like me.’ Advocates of anti-bullying legislation see it as the only way to counteract the inadequacy of legal protections in place.

The Healthy Workplace Campaign (HWC), says that bullying is four times more prevalent than illegal discrimination and can have a wide range of effect on employees. It’s also a problem for employers, often resulting in frequent absenteeism, decreased trust in management, and the loss of valuable employees.