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ADA Notice vs. GINA Authorization

Posted by Barbara J. Zabawa | Aug 04, 2016 | 0 Comments

The final rules released by the EEOC regarding the applicability of the ADA and GINA to workplace wellness programs include provisions relating to issuing notice to employees when collecting their health information.  This notice does not need to be signed by the employee, but it does need to contain certain elements, such as what information you are collecting, who will see it and why, and what you will do to protect the information.  A sample notice is available on the EEOC website, or on this website, here.  An authorization, on the other hand, usually requires a signature to demonstrate that the person authorizing the action has indeed given their permission.  GINA requires individuals who provide their "genetic information" to give their authorization.  Genetic information for workplace wellness programs often means family medical history questions on a health risk assessment for employees, and health risk assessments or biometric screens for an employee's family members, including spouses and adopted children.  Although the EEOC did not provide a sample authorization form, the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC has one available for its clients; an authorization form that complies with GINA must contain certain provisions, similar to the provisions needed for the ADA notice.

So, if you create or implement workplace wellness programs that collect health or genetic information from participants, make sure you provide the participant with notice for ADA compliance and with an authorization for GINA compliance.  Also, don't bury your notice or authorization in a bunch of other text.  Be clear.  Be up front.  Give the participant ample opportunity to understand what information they are disclosing and why.  

If you have any questions relating to the ADA and GINA notice/authorization requirements, contact the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC.  We are here to help.

About the Author

Barbara J. Zabawa

Barbara is lead author of the book Rule the Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs, published by the American Bar Association. She is a frequent writer and speaker on health and wellness law topics, having presented for national organizations such as WELCOA, National Wellness Institute, HPLive, Healthstat University and HERO. Barbara J. Zabawa is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, Department of Health Services Administration where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in health law and compliance, US health care delivery and health professions career development. Barbara also owns the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC a law firm dedicated to improving legal access and compliance for the health and wellness industries.  Before graduating with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School, she obtained an MPH degree from the University of Michigan. Immediately prior to starting her own firm, she was Associate General Counsel and HIPAA Privacy Officer for a large health insurer where she advised on Affordable Care Act matters. She was also a shareholder and Health Law Team Leader at a large Wisconsin law firm. Barbara serves health and wellness professionals and organizations across the country as an advocate, a transactional lawyer and a compliance resource. Her commitment to improving health and wellness also shows through her community service. Barbara founded the Wellness Compliance Institute, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve wellness program and activity compliance. She also is a Board Member for the Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation, a health care organization that specializes in treating mental illness and she chairs the State Bar of Wisconsin Health Law Section. Barbara is licensed to practice law in both Wisconsin and New York.

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