Employment commission proposes limits to prevent discrimination in workplace wellness programs

Federal regulators are proposing limits on how employers use financial penalties and rewards to nudge employees to participate in fast-growing workplace wellness programs.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — which enforces laws against discrimination — said Thursday that employers can use financial incentives up to 30 percent of the cost of premiums for single coverage, provided certain other safeguards are met.

Business groups and advocates for people with disabilities are watching closely.

The 30-percent standard was set in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.

But after that law passed, questions arose about potential conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That law dates back to 1990 and protects people with chronic conditions against workplace discrimination.

The employment commission is trying to clarify how the two laws can work together.