AARP sues Yale University for discriminatory ‘wellness’ practices

Jul 17 2019

As it appeared on HRMorning.com
by Rich Henson

The AARP Foundation announced it has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Yale University employees, alleging that Yale’s employee wellness program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

The lawsuit contends that Yale forces certain employees and their spouses to either submit to medical exams and disclose personal health information and family medical history or pay heavy financial penalties.

Yale’s employee wellness program, called Health Expectations, requires approximately 5,000 union employees and their spouses to submit to medical tests and allow release of all of their insurance claims data to multiple wellness vendors.

Employees who refuse to disclose private medical and genetic information must pay a penalty of $1,300 per year.

“This is a particularly important issue for older workers, who are more likely to have disabilities and medical conditions—such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer—that are at risk of being revealed by wellness questionnaires and exams,” said AARP Foundation President Lisa marsh Ryerson, “and it hits low-income workers the hardest.

Violation of civil rights
“Allowing employers to financially coerce workers into relinquishing their personal health information is a clear violation of medical privacy and civil rights protections,” Ryerson said.

Both the ADA and GINA are federal laws that protect employee privacy and allow workers to shield themselves from discrimination in the workplace. The AARP Foundation lawsuit argues that Yale’s Health Expectations program puts workers between a rock and hard place: employees either must hand over sensitive medical and genetic information on themselves and their spouses or pay a heavy financial penalty to protect their personal health information.

“Under federal law, disclosing medical and genetic information and test results in workplace wellness programs must be voluntary,” said William Alvarado rivera, Senior Vice Preisdent of Litigation at AARP Foundation. “Workers should have the freedom to choose whether to divulge personal health information in the workplace, as Congress intended.”

Allowing employers and others access to private medical information could lead to people being fired, not hired, or discriminated against in other ways based on their health history. Ensuring that inquiries and exams in wellness programs are voluntary is a self-help mechanism for workers who do not want to risk these consequences.

Yale University had not publicly responded to the lawsuit.

Share this Post

wellness plan garrison levin-epstein

You deserve justice. We are here to fight for you.

Let Us Review Your Case

We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Client Experiences

During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

Ethan Levin-Epstein represented me during a most painful and challenging crisis in my personal and professional life. Seeing me within 24 hours of being referred, his support and advocacy, wisdom and clarity not only resulted in a favorable negotiated outcome for me and for my family, but gave me peace of mind and the courage to recover. I am very grateful to have met Ethan and his team and would refer anyone in need to this haven. — C.L., Guilford, CT

You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

Proven Results & Personalized Attention When You Need It Most

American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Back to Top