HR Strange But True!
March 15, 2012

Are “the food police,” in the guise of a wellness program for state employees, intruding into workers’ personal lives by asking them if they eat lard? Employees responding to news stories on the subject think so, and many are wondering if a surcharge for eating meat, staying up late watching Letterman, or not putting on sunscreen is in their future.

According to news reports, the rollout of the Oregon Health Engagement Model for state employees is not going smoothly. While the intent of the program, to keep workers healthy and save millions in healthcare insurance costs for the state, is good, the implementation and communication about the problem may not be so good. Or maybe it’s the 25-page health assessment employees must fill out for the program.

Employees aren’t exactly happy about being asked about their personal habits—or the fact that they face a surcharge of up to $420 per year if they do not sign up for the new health program, according to And they were already perturbed over their new obligation to pay part of their health insurance, averaging about $53 per month.

Several unions had asked the state Public Employees' Benefits Board (PEEB) to rescind the surcharge for noncompliance, but PEEB voted against this, stating that delaying the surcharge could cost the state over $45 million.

Now two workers’ unions, for the state troopers and corrections workers, have filed a federal lawsuit against the state, stating that both the surcharges and the questions about medical information, such as if they are obese or ever had a sexually transmitted disease, are illegal. The troopers’ union president told that his members are concerned that “the state is poking its nose” too much into their lives.


What's the weirdest question you've asked an employee—or an employee has asked you?

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