Court Vacates EEOC’s Wellness Rules for 2019

On Dec. 20, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated key provisions of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) final rules for employer-sponsored wellness plans. However, to avoid disruption to employers, the court stayed its ruling until Jan. 1, 2019.

The EEOC’s final rules allow employers to offer wellness incentives of up to 30 percent of the cost of health plan coverage. In an earlier ruling, the court held that the EEOC failed to provide a reasoned explanation for the incentive limit and sent the final rules back to the EEOC for reconsideration.

In its latest ruling, the court vacated the final rules’ incentive limits, stating that the EEOC’s unhurried approach for issuing new wellness rules is unacceptable. The court also strongly encouraged the EEOC to speed up its rule-making process for wellness programs.


For now, the EEOC’s final wellness rules remain in place. However, beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the final rules’ guidance on permissible incentive limits for voluntary wellness programs will no longer apply. Due to this new legal uncertainty, employers should carefully consider the level of incentives they use with their wellness programs. Employers should also monitor any developments related to the EEOC’s rules.


  • A federal district court vacated key provisions of the EEOC’s wellness program rules, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Employers should be careful about structuring incentives for wellness programs that ask for health information or involve medical exams.
  • It is possible that the EEOC will issue new wellness rules prior to 2019.


January 1, 2017: EEOC’s final wellness rules under ADA and GINA became effective.

January 1, 2019: District court’s ruling to vacate incentive limits under the EEOC’s final wellness rules takes effect.

For more information and a printable format click below:
Court Vacates EEOC’s Wellness Rules for 2019

Questions?  Contact Sarah Willer of our wellness team

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