A new court ruling confirms that employers can, indeed, impose a penalty on employees who opt out of their companies’ wellness programs.

The case involved the wellness program offered to employees of Broward County, FL, which required workers to take a blood test for glucose and cholesterol levels and complete an online health risk assessment.

To increase participation in the plan, the county imposed a biweekly $20 charge to employees enrolled in the county health plan but didn’t participate in the wellness program.

Bradley Seff sued the county, alleging that the county’s policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act — he claimed the charge for non-participation made the wellness program involuntary.

The court acknowledged that the ADA does, indeed, bar companies from requiring employees to undergo medical examinations that are not directly-job related.

But, the court added, the ADA also has a “safe harbor” clause that allows firms to establish programs designed to “underwriting risks, classifying risks, or administering such risks.”

The Broward wellness program fell into that safe harbor, the court ruled.

The case is Seff v. Broward County, FL.

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