Exactly a year ago, retail drug store/onsite clinic/PBM giant CVS Caremark unveiled its ‘big stick’ approach to employee wellness–if you are in their health plan, you must participate in their ‘voluntary’ health screenings and management program or be charged $50 per month. One employee is now suing about this in Alameda County (Oakland/San Francisco, California area) Court.
According to the Courthouse News Service, the complaint states that “During the ‘Wellness Exam,’ a doctor performs blood work, which, upon information and belief, is utilized by defendants to ‘flag’ employees who are at risk for a variety of medical conditions.” Also from CNS, “In addition to the exam, which Watterson says she had to pay for, CVS made her fill out a survey that asked personal questions such as weight, body fat percentage, whether she drinks or smokes and is sexually active. The survey was “required in lieu of a $600 fine,” according to the lawsuit.” (Editor’s emphasis) If she had the exam in-house–at a CVS MinuteClinic–it also would have cost her $125 out of pocket, so she went to a private physician who charged her the co-pay, $25. She’s seeking compensation for “class certification and damages for failure to pay hourly and overtime wages, failure to indemnify, illegal wage deductions, failure to provide accurate wage statements and unfair competition.”
All of which was easily predictable that CVS Caremark would be asking these questions, as they are fairly standard in a health workup –but is the ‘cross the line’ part (and what most of the dither may be about) the last item noted? This Editor has already weighed in on the fairness and effectiveness of this blunderbuss approach to mostly hourly, low-wage employees. No matter what, there is the inevitable perception that your employer will be privy at some level to this information, though it is stored by a third party (WebMD) as this Editor wrote last year [TTA 21 March, 12 April].
Online publications as disparate as MedCityNews and Huffington Post have also noted this suit in summary terms and provided some analysis on companies that are for the most part taking a different approach. What they haven’t noted was towards the bottom in the CNS article. A Beverly Hills (Los Angeles) personal injury/wrongful termination law firm, the Shaun Setareh Law Group is taking on this case. The plaintiff works in Garfield Beach near Los Angeles, so it’s a mystery why the suit was filed hundreds of miles north–a regional CVS HQ, perhaps? It’s obviously a test using employee-friendly California law, and probably a friendly court. If this is successful, will there be a class action lawsuit coming up?