The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

151: Breaking down the Lawsuit against Yale University with Barbara Zabawa

Barbara Zabawa Headshot

If you’re on top of big news in the worksite wellness world, you may have heard about employees suing Yale University because they allege the wellness program is not voluntary. That’s why wellness legal expert, Barbara Zabawa, is the perfect person to walk us through this class action lawsuit.

Barbara Zabawa owns the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC a law firm dedicated to improving legal access and compliance for the health and wellness industries. She serves health and wellness professionals and organizations across the country as an advocate, a transactional lawyer and a compliance resource. 

In today’s interview, Barbara first catches us up on the status of the EEOC wellness regulations around incentives that were vacated in January of 2019. Then we spend time going through the Yale lawsuit and Barbara’s perspective. She tells us how she would defend Yale and offers what other employers can take away from this lawsuit.

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Interview highlights (with timestamps):
  • [5:20] The status of the current EEOC wellness regulations.
  • [9:28] Barbara breaks down the class action lawsuit.
  • [13:40] We delve into a tangential screenings conversation.
  • [19:20] The role wages play into the lawsuit and the other union that negotiated out the wellness requirements.
  • [21:40] Was HIPPA violated? Barbara weighs in.
  • [28:27] Next steps in response to the lawsuit.
  • [32:22] Barbara’s opinion of the $1,300 incentive.
  • [36:10] What employers can learn from this lawsuit
Mentioned in this episode:

Redesigning Wellness Facebook Community

Bob Merberg’s LinkedIn article

Let’s connect on LinkedIn

https://www.pacer.gov/

https://www.wellnesslaw.com/

Full Bio

Barbara J. Zabawa is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, Department of Health Services Administration where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in health law and compliance, US health care delivery and health professions career development.

Barbara also owns the Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC a law firm dedicated to improving legal access and compliance for the health and wellness industries. 

Barbara is lead author of the book Rule the Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs, published by the American Bar Association.  She is a frequent writer and speaker on health and wellness law topics, having presented for national organizations such as WELCOA, National Wellness Institute, HPLive, Healthstat University and HERO.

Before graduating with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School, she obtained an MPH degree from the University of Michigan.  Immediately prior to starting her own firm, she was Associate General Counsel and HIPAA Privacy Officer for a large health insurer where she advised on Affordable Care Act matters. She was also a shareholder and Health Law Team Leader at a large Wisconsin law firm.

Barbara serves health and wellness professionals and organizations across the country as an advocate, a transactional lawyer and a compliance resource.  Her commitment to improving health and wellness also shows through her community service. 

Barbara sits on the Board of Directors for Health Promotion Advocates, a national nonprofit organization created to integrate health promotion into the national agenda.  She also is a Board Member for the Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation, a health care organization that specializes in treating mental illness and she chairs the State Bar of Wisconsin Health Law Section.

Barbara is licensed to practice law in both Wisconsin and New York.

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