The health of workers will affect the amount an employer must pay for health insurance. The more ill a workforce is, the more the employer (and the employees) must pay for insurance premiums. That cost saving could lead to employers hiring only healthy workers. Or, it could cause employers to ask employees to take routine medical exams. One such employer, Honeywell, has indeed started asking employees to take medical exams. What happens if an employee refuses? That is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The U.S. District Court has ruled that Honeywell can keep requiring those tests.
Honeywell’s tests include blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose and indications regarding whether the employee has been smoking. The EEOC filed this lawsuit in Minneapolis last month. Employees who refuses to take the tests could be fined up to $4,000 in surcharges and additional health care premiums. Honeywell says it wants to protect those employees who maintain a healthy lifestyle. The employer says the healthier employees should not subsidize the less healthy lifestyles of other workers. See CBS News report. And, of course, Honeywell appreciates, I am sure, that lower costs affect its bottom line.
The EEOC filed suit based on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. It seems to me the EEOC should also have included the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. I would expect many of those downtrodden, unhealthy workers are over the age of 50.
A quick look at the lawsuit on Pacer shows that this ruling concerned a temporary restraining order. So, this issue is far from decided.