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What You Should Know About Genetic Information Discrimination

Dec. 18, 2017

Acquiring genetic information from employees is a form of employment discrimination, where an employer or insurance company treats people differently based on their genetic mutation. The genetic information also provides information about an inherited disorder, which may result in biasness and discrimination at various levels in a workplace. If you think you have been subjected to genetic information discrimination, you may have some questions in your mind. Here we have answered some of the frequently asked questions that clients ask from our attorney.

Q: What is meant by genetic information?

A: Genetic information comprises of specifications about:

  • The genetic tests of an person

  • The manifestation of a disorder or disease in the family medical history of a person

  • The genetic tests of the family members of a person

  • The receipt of or request for the genetic services of an individual

  • The genetic makeup of a child or fetus carried by a person

Q: What federal and state laws protect against genetic information discrimination?

A: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law that was passed in 2008. It prohibits health insurers from reducing or denying health coverage or charging higher premiums to a healthy person based on their genetic predisposition of developing a disorder or disease. The workplace discrimination is addressed in the Title II of GINA. It applies on all US employers with 15 or more workers. The state law for genetic information discrimination is the Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA).

Q: Who is not covered under GINA?

A: Individuals who are already diagnosed with conditions with a genetic basis or have impairments are not covered under GINA. This may include certain forms of cancer, diabetes, and other conditions. Such people are covered under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

Q: Are there any exceptions to GINA?

A: The EEOC has designated a few exceptions to the statutory limitations of GINA, including, but not limited to:

  • Obtaining family medical history when filling out FMLA leave certification

  • Information gathered from resources that are publically available, like newspapers or the internet

  • Unintentional acquisition of genetic information. For example, a fellow employee telling about another employee’s illness

  • Acquisition of information through a genetic monitoring program where employee participation is voluntary

Q: Is my employer legally bound to keep my genetic information confidential?

A: Yes. Any genetic information that your employer has gathered under the exceptions of the EEOC must be kept in a confidential medical record. If any labor organization, employer, or employment agency possessing genetic information must maintain the medical record in separate files.

Discuss your Case with an Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today

If you think you are a victim of genetic information discrimination at your workplace, then you should get in touch with an experienced and qualified Roselle employment discrimination attorney to provide legal counsel for your case. Contact the Law Office of Michael T. Smith if you would like to consult a professional lawyer.