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EEOC Files Lawsuit Challenging Biometric Testing in Wellness Programs

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November 2014

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a petition in the federal district court in Minnesota against Honeywell, International Inc. challenging the legality of the biometric testing requirements in Honeywell’s wellness program. The EEOC’s complaint claims that the biometric testing violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) because the wellness program imposes penalties on employees who refuse to undergo the biometric testing. The EEOC was initially seeking to enjoin Honeywell from implementing the biometric testing in the first place, but the judge ruled against the EEOC’s petition for a temporary restraining order on November 3, 2014.

This is the third such lawsuit brought by the EEOC in the past few weeks. Two other suits have been filed by the EEOC, one against Orion Energy Systems, Inc. and the other against Flambeau, Inc., both in Wisconsin. These lawsuits are a somewhat surprising development, given the EEOC’s lack of clear guidance on and until now, lack of enforcement action regarding whether wellness programs that are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also comply with the ADA and GINA.

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