HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Health Incentives in the Workplace

Today's Washington Post has an article by that describes the health-promotion programs of various employers around the country.  Some are definitely of the Big Brother variety, while others seem less invasive, more voluntary, and based upon positive incentives (often cash) rather than punishments.

As reported by the Post,

The degree to which companies can impose health-related requirements on employees varies across the country. Thirty states, including Virginia, plus the District of Columbia have laws preventing discrimination against smokers, while others, such as Maryland, do not. Thirteen states prohibit employers from regulating alcohol use during non-work hours. But only four states -- California, Colorado, New York and North Dakota -- have passed broader privacy laws protecting people's activities away from the job.

The employers' programs focus primarily upon diet, exercise, and nicotine and alcohol use.  Though workplace-sponsored voluntary Weight Watchers® clubs, "Out to Lunch" exercise groups, and AA and smoking cessation programs have been around for a long time, lie-detector tests, mandatory urinalysis and weigh-ins, however, raise a host of issues.  I've done a quick law-review search and not come up with much on this.  Does anyone know of some good articles out there?  [tm]

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