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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Flambeau, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

December 31, 2015

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
FLAMBEAU, INC., Defendant

         Decided December 30, 2015.

Page 850

          For Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff: Brian Charles Tyndall, LEAD ATTORNEY, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Milwaukee, WI; Jean P. Kamp, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chicago, IL.

         For Flambeau, Inc., Defendant: Stephen Alfred Di Tullio, LEAD ATTORNEY, John C. Gardner, DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C., Madison, WI.

Page 851

          OPINION AND ORDER

         BARBARA B. CRABB, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed this civil action against defendant Flambeau, Inc., alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, plaintiff contends that defendant violated 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A), which generally prohibits employers from requiring their employees to submit to medical examinations, by conditioning participation in its employee health insurance plan on completing a " health risk assessment" and a " biometric screening test." Defendant responds with the argument that although requiring employees to complete the risk assessment and biometric test might violate § 12112(d)(4)(A) in some circumstances, here the assessment and testing requirement fell within the ADA's " safe harbor," which provides an exemption for activities related to the administration of a bona fide insurance benefit plan. Defendant also contends that plaintiff's claim fails because completing the assessment and test was not the type of " required" exam prohibited by § 12112(d)(4)(A). Defendant required employees to complete the assessment and test only if they wanted to participate in the company's insurance plan. Defendant argues that when viewed from this perspective, the assessment and testing were entirely voluntary and therefore not prohibited by § 12112(d)(4)(A). The parties have each filed and briefed cross-motions for summary judgment, both of which are pending review.

         I am denying plaintiff's motion, granting defendant's motion and entering judgment in defendant's favor. Although the applicability of 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(A) to the specific type of medical examination requirement at issue here has not been addressed by the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, I conclude that the protections set forth in the ADA's safe harbor enable employers to design insurance benefit plans that require otherwise prohibited medical examinations as a condition of enrollment without violating § 12112(d)(4)(A). In light of this conclusion, it is unnecessary to address the parties' arguments with respect to whether the assessment and testing is actually " required" in the manner prohibited by § 12112(d)(4)(A). It is also not necessary to address plaintiff's request for a finding that it satisfied its statutory conciliation obligation set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(b) or defendant's request for a finding that plaintiff is not entitled to punitive damages.

         From the parties' proposed facts, I find that the following are relevant and not genuinely disputed.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         Defendant manufactures and sells plastic products internationally. The company employs at least 15 people, is engaged in an industry affecting commerce and is a " covered entity" subject to the ADA. One of defendant's manufacturing facilities is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, which is where Dale Arnold worked from 1990 until 2014.

         Defendant offers its employees various employee benefits, one of which is the ability to participate in its health insurance plan. The plan is self-funded and self-insured, but is administered by United Medical Resources. Participation in the health insurance plan is wholly voluntary.

Page 852

Employees are not required to participate in the plan as a condition of their employment. However, Dale Arnold participated ...


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