A federal lawsuit that was filed against Flambeau Inc. alleged that its employee’s wellness program went against the ADA (American Disability Act) since workers stood to lose their health insurance were they to fail to undergo medical examinations for disabilities that were not related to their jobs.
In the suit that was filed by Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), a former employee with Flambeau plant located in Baraboo, Dale Arnold, lost his health insurance after missing a health risk assessment and a biometrics exam in December 2011.
According to court documents seen, Arnold was under treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy while on leave.
During that time, the wellness program of Flambeau required its staffs to take a biometrics exam as well as a health-risk assessment, which included disability-related inquiries. The risk assessment required that employees reveal their health history while the biometric exam involved blood work.
On December 14, 2011, Flambeau had scheduled testing at the Baraboo plant during which time Arnold was in hospital and not able to take tests.
According to the lawsuit, Arnold returned from leave on Jan 6 2012 but Flambeau declined to rearrange the tests. Flambeau are said to have paid 75% of the premium.
Arnold later switched to COBRA health plan, but he could not afford this which led to its cancelling in June 2012, the lawsuit states. The suit alleged that ADA proscribes employers from requiring their employees to respond to medical questions regarding their disabilities if they are unrelated to their work.
John Hendrickson, the EEOC regional attorney for Chicago district said that it is against the law to penalize employees by removing them from health insurance sponsored by the company for failing to undergo assessments and exams for conditions that are non-work related.
Arnold does not work for Flambeau any longer. Brian Tyndall, the EEOC attorney, refused to specify why.
When contacted, Dana Roberts, representing Flambeau Inc., said that he had not come across the suit and stated that it was inappropriate for the company to comment on a case before the courts.
Flambeau, an international plastics products manufacturer, has more than 1600 employees at various locations. The Nordic Group of Companies, Ltd., based in Baraboo, is the owner of the firm.
According to the EEOC, it only filed the suit after settlement negotiations failed to resolve the impasse.
The suit is seeking unspecified amounts in benefits and back pay for Arnold as well as punitive damages for “malicious and reckless conduct” by Flambeau.