Los Angeles Times

Michael Hiltzik: A federal judge takes aim at 'voluntary' company wellness programs that invade your privacy

Companies love "wellness" programs for a number of reasons. These smoking-cessation, weight-loss, and disease-screening programs give workers the impression that their employers really care about their health. Ostensibly they save money, too, since a healthy workforce is cheaper to cover and less prone to absenteeism.

That's the touchy-feely story. The dark downside is that wellness programs also give employers a window into their workers' health profiles that is otherwise an illegal invasion of their privacy, under the guise of forcing them into "voluntary" wellness programs.

That's the aspect that bothered Federal Judge John D. Bates of Washington, D.C., just before Christmas, when he overturned a federal rule that arguably permitted employers

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