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Genetic Employment Discrimination Bill Passes Senate

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.

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