Under the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, can your employer legally obtain your spouse’s genetic information? Maybe. But only voluntarily within the context of a group health plan wellness program and under very limited conditions. It’s important to note that this rule would only define what is legal under GINA; you can read more about the EEOC rule relating to the legality of wellness programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act in a prior blog here.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with eliminating discrimination, recently issued proposed amendments to a federal rule that would allow employers to obtain spousal genetic information in very limited circumstances. Under the rule, an employer could obtain certain genetic information in exchange for offering an incentive on group health care coverage.
An employee wellness plan can take many forms, but all are geared at improving employee health. The majority of employers now offers some form of wellness program, at 76 percent. Employers like them because healthy employee are happy, productive employees. Of course, healthy employees also mean fewer insurance claims for preventable conditions and fewer missed days of work.
Several requirements must be met before an employer may request spousal genetic information:
- The spouse must be a dependent on the employee’s health care plan;
- The spouse must receive health or genetic services from the employer, such as wellness services;
- The spouse must voluntarily provide current or past health information as part of a health risk assessment; and
- The spouse must provide a voluntary, written authorization allowing the release of his or her information.
If all of these conditions are met, an employer may offer an inducement, financial or otherwise, of up to 30 percent of the total annual cost of the plan in which the employee and his or her dependents are enrolled. If only the spouse enrolls, the cap is 30 percent of the cost of self-only coverage.
To be eligible, the service being offered must have a reasonable chance of promoting health or preventing disease of the enrollee. Contact Labor Law Office, APC today for more information and to speak with a professional discrimination lawyer in Fair Oaks.
Sacramento, CA 95821