Minneapolis, Minnesota — A federal judge on Monday said Honeywell Inc. could begin penalizing workers who refuse to take medical or biometric tests.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had asked the judge to block the program. But U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery denied the agency's request for a temporary restraining order at a hearing, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
The tests, required by Honeywell in a recent policy change, measure blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, as well as check for signs that an employee has been smoking. Employees who decline to take the tests could be fined up to $4,000 in surcharges and increased health costs.
In a statement, Honeywell says it's pleased the policy will continue in 2015.
"Honeywell wants its employees to be well informed about their health status not only because it promotes their well-being, but also because we don't believe it's fair to the employees who do work to lead healthier lifestyles to subsidize the health care premiums for those who do not," Honeywell said.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit last month in Minneapolis on behalf of two Minnesota employees of Honeywell. The case could define how far an employer can go in shifting health care costs to employees based on their behavior.
The federal agency claims Honeywell's policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Honeywell contends the program is designed to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles and to lower health care costs.
The case will continue moving forward in court.
The Morristown, New Jersey-based company began in Minneapolis and is still a major employer in the Twin Cities area.