MILWAUKEE (Legal Newsline) – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that a federal court has ruled in its favor for a disability discrimination case involving wellness programs filed against Orion Energy Systems.

In the Orion lawsuit, EEOC alleged the company required employee Wendy Schobert to submit to medical testing as part of a wellness program or pay 100 percent of the premium for the employer-provided health insurance. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from forcing involuntary medical exams upon employees. In response, Orion argued that the program was voluntary and that it was also a protected program under “insurance safe harbor.” 

The court found that the plan was not protected by “insurance safe harbor” but was voluntary and therefore legal. Because Schobert was allegedly fired for her failure to participate in the wellness plan, the next step in the case will be a retaliation trial. 

"Although we disagree with the court's holding that participation in the wellness plan here was voluntary, we are pleased with the court's solid reasoning that the safe harbor concept does not apply here," said John Hendrickson, the regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District Office. "It establishes that there is no easy out for employers from ADA scrutiny. They must make sure that their plans comply with that law."

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