Monday, November 26, 2007

Mandatory Yoga at Work

Yoga According to this National Law Journal article (subscription required), yoga and other mandatory wellness programs may be coming to a workplace near you:

Employers are increasingly mandating that employees have healthy lifestyles, or face repercussions.

Mandatory wellness programs are popping up everywhere, lawyers say, requiring everything from cholesterol screening to weight-loss plans and yoga classes.

Several employers are starting to reward employees with extra cash for meeting certain company health goals. Others are fining those who refuse to take part in programs such as health screenings or opt not to follow a health coach's plan to get in shape. Some are even firing, or refusing to hire, those who test positive for nicotine use.

These tactics have labor and employment attorneys predicting a barrage of discrimination and privacy lawsuits.

Indeed, potential lawsuits could exist under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act (HIPAA), Title VII, state lifestyle discrimination statutes, and the tort of invasion of privacy.

But some employers remain committed to a healthier workforce:

And not all mandatory wellness programs are problematic, said Jon D. Meer of DLA Piper's Los Angeles office, who has a number of clients with mandatory health programs in place.

One is an investment banking firm that has a mandatory yoga class, three times a week, for stress-reduction purposes. Another is a commercial real estate company that has mandatory weekly stress-management classes, which include meditation and breathing exercises. A third is a CEO who is a running enthusiast and requires employees to run with him while having meetings.

I like yoga, but do I really want to subject my colleagues to me in spandex?

Not a pretty picture.


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What happens when mandatory yoga classes violate a person's religious beliefs? I could come up with examples of where co-ed yoga classes would go against the beliefs of Orthodox Jews, some Mulsims groups and some Christian sects. Can an employer refuse to hire an otherwise competant candidate when he finds out that the candidate won't, for religious reasons, participate in an activity not related to any actual job function?

Posted by: Ariella | Nov 26, 2007 3:24:28 PM

Yoga would be great in the workplace but making it mandatory is a step too far.

Posted by: Steve Harold | Jun 5, 2008 6:27:45 AM

I do yoga every day, and I think it's one of the greatest human accomplishments... but people shuld never be FORCED to do anything.

Posted by: Yoga schools | Dec 13, 2008 4:08:39 AM

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