Last November, the
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act “GINA” became law. GINA provides a general ban on employers’
obtaining genetic information about employees or job applicants, including
the inadvertent acquisition of the information for use in employment decisions.
Almost a full year after GINA became effective, the EEOC has issued final
regulations interpreting its application.
EEOC final regulations are intended to provide guidance regarding many issues currently existing
in the work place as well as anticipated issues regarding genetic data.
Significant provisions of GINA include –
Family medical history questions no longer allowed. Employers are prohibited from questioning employees/new hires during
“fitness for duty” or other post-job offer medical exams regarding
family medical history.
Genetic information allowed for treatment only. Employers are not allowed to use genetic information in making employment
decisions, however they may inquire about genetic information for treatment purposes.
Protected genetic information must be kept separate. Genetic information may not be included in an employee’s personnel
file. Similar to provisions in the
Americans with Disability Act (ADA), it is critical to maintain confidentiality regarding genetic information.
Employers cannot search internet or social networking sites as a means
to discover an individuals’ genetic information. Employers may not be liable for obtaining genetic information inadvertently,
such as through casual conversation or overhearing employees’ conversations,
however employers may not search the internet in order to obtain prohibited
Covered acts include both harassment and retaliation based on genetic material.
Despite great advances, work place discrimination continues throughout
Georgia and the United States. Your genetic information – and that
of your family – is private. If your employer has improperly asked
about your genetic background, requested prohibited medical information,
or taken any adverse employment action based on your genetic information,
you may be able to file a claim under GINA.
For more information,
contact The Buckley Law Firm, LLC, a Georgia law firm dedicated to protecting