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Is your sex life a corporate wellness issue? CVS employee’s lawsuit will tell us

Employer wellness plans are gaining wider acceptance as a way to help employees manage their health. There doesn’t seem to be a corporate standard, so the level of information employees are asked to volunteer varies. One employee at CVS Caremark thinks at least some of the questions violate her privacy and has filed a lawsuit […]

Employer wellness plans are gaining wider acceptance as a way to help employees manage their health. There doesn’t seem to be a corporate standard, so the level of information employees are asked to volunteer varies. One employee at CVS Caremark thinks at least some of the questions violate her privacy and has filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Court in California.

The Huffington Post reported that CVS cashier Roberta Watterson claims the company made her disclose personal information, including her weight and level of sexual activity, threatening to penalize her by docking $600 from her paycheck if she refused to fill out the form.

Watterson opted for her own physician to conduct the exam because the $25 co-pay was a cheaper option than a $125 Minute Clinic visit. So she wants to be compensated for gas as well as for the time it took to fill out the wellness survey and do the exam, according to Courthouse News. I doubt she’ll get any satisfaction for her quest to get paid for filling out forms and having a medical exam and I’d be surprised if most people expected compensation for that.

In an emailed statement to Huffington Post, CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis wrote that Watterson’s suit has “no merit.”

“Our employee health benefits plan complies with all applicable laws,” he wrote. “By knowing their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose numbers, as well as other potential health risks, our colleagues are empowered to work toward or maintain healthy behaviors that can lower their overall health care costs.”

DeAngelis added that results of the wellness exams are kept confidential by an independent program administrator and cannot be accessed by CVS Caremark management.

That $600 fine is a bit ridiculous in its heavy-handedness, particularly since it goes in the opposite direction of most financial incentives. If money is going to be used, then employers should reward employees for doing these wellness exams, though maybe not to the tune of $600. After all, these corporate wellness plans are supposed to be saving companies money. Threatening to hit them with a fine undermines any positive work culture the company should be trying to encourage.

I think it’s important for employers to be sensitive to employees’ concerns. They need to make sure their employees understand why they are being asked to do these exams and listen to the feedback they get.  Is every question really necessary? By taking the time to do that, they could limit these sensitive discussions to an office in their company instead of a courtroom.

[Photo credit: Confused by questions from Bigstock Photo]