Yale University and its employees asked a federal court to approve a $1.29 million settlement in a disability and genetic information bias lawsuit. The case is Lisa Kwesell et al. v. Yale University, case number 3:19-cv-10980, U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Yale workers filed a proposed class action lawsuit in 2019, alleging that the university had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by implementing a mandatory employee wellness plan. Yale required all employees to participate in a “health expectations” plan, which included 5,000 union employees being forced to submit health data for themselves and their spouses or pay a $1,300 fine. The workers argued that any submission of personal health data in a work setting should be voluntary under the ADA and GINA.
The settlement, which awaits final court approval, provides that Yale will pay $1.29 million into a settlement fund. The funds will compensate class members, pay individual service awards to thirteen plaintiffs, pay up to $200,000 in attorney fees, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney costs.
Yale will continue to offer the wellness program, but it will charge an opt-out fee for four years. The settlement contains a provision that allows Yale to shorten the length of the agreement if there is a change in statutes, agency regulations, or court decisions. A change only allows Yale to shorten the agreement if it “reasonably interprets [it] to permit the collection of fees associated with non-participation or noncompliance with an employee wellness program or employee health program.”
Yale also has agreed to change its data practices, at least to some degree. For example, the university will purge certain data collected on workers through the wellness program and impose some restrictions on using such data in the future.
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