In a unanimous 95-0 vote, the U.S. Senate passed an anti-discrimination
bill on April 24th that would prohibit employers from using genetic information
in making employment-related decisions. The proposed law, known as the
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, bars employers from using the
results of an employee’s genetic test in hiring, firing, or promotion
decisions and also prohibits health insurance companies from using genetic
information in making enrollment or eligibility decisions or in setting premiums.
With the recent dramatic advances in genetic science, there are now more
than 1,000 genetic tests available, but most employees do not take advantage
of such tests for fear their employers will discriminate against them
based on their test results. This fear could prevent millions of employees
from taking genetic tests-tests that could help employees identify serious
health conditions and allow them to seek out early intervention and treatment.
If the law passes, employees will no longer need to fear retaliation from
their employers, and they can get the testing and treatment they need.
The House is expected to pass the bill in the near future, and President
Bush has already expressed his support for it. We’ll keep you posted.