Want to do something important?
Meetings are going on right now where employers are asking the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to set guidelines and provide clarification regarding employer “wellness programs”; and the EEOC would like input.
Take a look at the concerns of the organizations that represent the rights of “people” (i.e., employees) and the concerns of the lawyers representing the employers. Uh-huh.
I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see that the employee-groups are concerned about discrimination; and the employers are concerned about the “effectiveness” of their programs.
The employers are concerned about the effectiveness of being able to get their hands on personal, private, protected health information of their employees; they are concerned about the effectiveness of the program to allow them to pass on more of the cost of health insurance to the people who need the coverage the most and are least able to bear that extra burden; and they are concerned about the effectiveness of using the program to weed out employees who are otherwise included in protected classes – like race, gender, and age.
Here is what I e-mailed to the EEOC:
It is becoming more and more clear that these programs are being used not to improve the health of employees but as a way to discriminate against all but a group of “healthy” individuals and to pass on rising insurance costs to those employees who will suffer the most from such penalization.
If the true concern is “wellness”, then participation should be sufficient without arbitrary goals such as BMI.
It is even more disconcerting that employers are demanding access to private (and protected) health information to which they have no right. There is no proper business reason for an employer to have access to health information on its employees, except in certain specific instances (such as drug testing).
To require an employee to achieve specific outcomes from a wellness program is unquestionably discriminatory. People with certain disabilities, with certain genetic traits, of certain ethnic background, of lower socioeconomic background, of a certain age or gender may not be able to achieve those (arbitrary) outcomes; or to achieve those outcomes may impose a disproportionate burden on those employees in attempting to do so.
I urge you to look closely at the motives of employer “wellness” programs; and that you create guidelines that protect the employee from unwarranted intrusion by an employer.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Other people’s bodies are none of your business, not to touch, to judge, or to publicly comment upon. (Leslie Kinzel)
(And yes, I kept my current tagline in, because I think it is pertinent to the issue.)
If you are so inclined, I encourage you to e-mail your thoughts, concerns and comments to the EEOC before May 23, 2013:
Comments will be made public, and the sender’s e-mail address will automatically appear on the message. Public comments may also be mailed to Commission Meeting, EEOC Executive Officer, 131 M St. N.E., Washington, DC 20507. Written testimony delivered at the meeting is available on the EEOC website.