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EEOC enforces GINA--Workplace Discrimination Based on Genetic Information is Illegal

December 7, 2009

In a post from last week, our Anaheim, California Employment Attorneys discussed the recent passing of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)--the new law banning discrimination based on genetic information in the workplace, and the use of genetic information with health insurance.

Genetic information is defined as the information about an individual's genetic testing as well as the genetic testing and medical history of an individual's family. Information involving the disease, condition, or disorder of an individual's family members is considered genetic information because it is used to determine the likelihood of whether someone has an increased risk of developing a potential health problem in the future.

Title I of GINA addresses the use of genetic information with health insurers and group plans--where a person's genetic makeup cannot be used against them for the basis of denying coverage and setting insurance rate premiums or deductibles based on genetic information. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury are responsible for issuing all regulations for Title I.

Under Title II of GINA, it is illegal for employers to discriminate based on genetic information with any aspect of employment, from hiring, paying, promoting, layoffs or firing. Genetic testing is not allowed by employers, and employees cannot be forced to reveal the medical histories of their family--as genetic information does not inform an employer about an employee's work abilities. Title II of GINA bans the use of genetic information to make decisions based on employment, and limits the employer's accessibility and disclosure of an individual's genetic information.

Harassment based on an employee's genetic information and the information of an employee's relative is also illegal--especially harassment that creates an offensive and hostile work environment resulting in the firing or demotion of an employee. Retaliation against a worker or applicant who participates in a discrimination lawsuit or proceeding is also against the law, and genetic information about employees and applicants must be kept strictly confidential at all times by employers. Title II is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the same remedies that are available under Title II of Gina are also available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Christine Griffin, Acting Vice Chair of the EEOC claimed that Title II of GINA works well with the ADA Amendments Act, as both laws protect American workers--if they have a disability, or develop an impairment in the future.

Our labor and employment lawyers know how to defend genetic discrimination in your Orange County or Southern California employment issue. Contact Howard Law, PC today.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC): Genetic Information Discrimination

Historic Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Takes Effect, EEOC Press Release, November 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC)