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Court Rules that Financial Incentives for Wellness Programs Do Not Violate ADA

April 28, 2011
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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed a lawsuit alleging that financial incentives to participate in a voluntary wellness program as part of a health plan provided to employees by Broward County, Florida, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In Bradley Seff v. Broward County, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore granted summary judgment to Broward County on April 25, ruling that the wellness program falls under the safe harbor provision of the ADA and is based on insurance and risk management principles.

In 2009, Broward County implemented a wellness program to address rising health care costs and its aging workforce, according to court documents. Under the program, employees were required to take a health assessment test and produce a blood sample to determine glucose and cholesterol levels.

In 2010, the county decided to incentivize its workforce by applying a $20 surcharge per paycheck for individuals not participating in the wellness program.

Former Broward County employee Bradley Seff filed a class-action complaint alleging that the county violated the ADA by requiring employees to undergo medical examinations and making medical inquiries about them, arguing that the wellness program was implemented not to manage risks but to further a wish to keep employees healthy, according to court documents.

“It is clear to this court that the wellness program is not a subterfuge; it was not designed to evade the purpose of the ADA,” Moore said. “Rather, it is a valid term of a benefits plan that falls within the ambit of the ADA’s safe harbor provision.”  

Filed by Mike Tsikoudakis of Business Insurance-Europe, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

 

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