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John
John, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Licensed and practicing attorney helping businesses achieve their legal and practical goals.
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Our company is planning to charge employees who use tobacco

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Our company is planning to charge employees who use tobacco products a $50.00 per month surcharge over their health insurance costs. It is a new agency policy, not an insurance issue. Is this considered discriminatory?

EmplmntLaw1 :

Being a smoker is not a protected class of of persons. Thus this type of program cannot be ruled discriminatory. The DOL regulations state that such charges cannot be more than a 20% premium over non-smokers. Also such a wellness program (as they are called) must provide an alternative standard to qualify for the lower premium (such as smoking cessation classes or the nicotine patch).

EmplmntLaw1 :

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