Employment-EEOC Says (Informally) That A Health Risk Assessment Violates The ADA

A letter from the EEOC Office of Legal Counsel (regarded as an informal discussion rather than an official opinion) says that requiring employees to participate in a health risk assessment, as a condition for participating in the employer’s health care plan, would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

In the particular case covered by the letter, as a condition of obtaining coverage under a self-funded health care plan of the employer, an employee had to agree to participate in the health risk assessment, which included answering a short health-related questionnaire, taking a blood pressure test, and providing blood for use in a blood panel screen. This health risk assessment would involve disability-related inquiry and a medical examination. The ADA requires that, once employment has begun, any disability-related questions or medical examinations of employees must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. According to the letter, under EEOC guidance, such questions or examinations meet this criteria when the employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that (1) an employee’s ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by a medical condition or (2) an employee will pose a direct threat due to a medical condition. Also, as the letter notes, an employer may seek disability-related information or require a medical examination (a) that follows up a request for reasonable accommodation when the disability or need for accommodation is not known or obvious or (b) as part of a voluntary wellness program. However, the letter concludes that the health risk assessment at issue did not meet any of the above, and would thus violate the ADA as an impermissible disability-related inquiry or medical examination.

The EEOC letter is here.