Seth T. Perretta, a principal at Groom Law Group, spoke to employers about wellness programs, the EEOC and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Employers can play a vital role in guiding the future of regulations and legislation that will impact their ability to sponsor wellness programs for employees and family members, according to Seth T. Perretta, a principal at Groom Law Group, Chartered, in Washington, D.C.

Perretta provided an update on recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuits at the Jan. 13 Alliance Learning Circle. He noted that employers will have two important opportunities to have an impact on the likelihood and nature of such lawsuits filed against employers in the future.

  1. Employers can comment on proposed EEOC regulations. The EEOC has said it will issue proposed regulations on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is applied to wellness programs. These proposed regulations will probably not be issued until late 2015 or early 2016. Because the regulations will be in proposed form, employers will have an opportunity to comment on them. Perretta said the EEOC will take into consideration the “weight” of the letters sent to comment on the regulation.  “The letters are actually really important to regulators,” Perretta said.
  2. Employers can encourage federal lawmakers to solve the problem through legislation. Perretta said it is likely that legislation will be introduced this year by Republican sponsors with Democratic co-sponsors. Employers can contact lawmakers to encourage them to sponsor, co-sponsor or support this legislation. “That’s where you have a very important role in this,” Perretta said. “If we can get Congress to solve the problem we don’t have to worry about the EEOC.”

The Alliance will continue to monitor this issue on employers’ behalf and provide regular updates.