GINA Considerations

Dustin Paschal here with Simon Paschal, PLLC with another legal tip for you. Today we’re going to talk about the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, otherwise known as GINA. This is a law that’s not that old, but it is something that’s included within the kind of the EOC’s realm of protection for employees, so something for employers to keep in mind. Now mind you, in fiscal year 2014, there were only 13 charges related to GINA, but it may get bigger and bigger. But the gist of it is that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on their genetic information or genetic history, as well as the employees family genetic information and genetic history. Think of it along the lines of if you find out an employee has a family history of cancer and you want to prohibit your HR department from hiring that employee because you’re afraid they may be out of work a lot if they ended up getting cancer or they may make your insurance costs go up, that would be a violation of GINA because that’s discriminating based on genetic information and genetic history.

One other quick thing in this legal tip that you should know is that an employer cannot seek out an employee’s genetic information or history. An employer can’t affirmatively go ask their employees about it. If they inadvertently learned about it perfectly fine, but they can’t expressly go try to find it. Now, there are some exceptions to that with respect to company wellness programs or leave requests under the Family Medical Leave Act. Obviously, you’re going to determine some genetic history purposely by doing that, so those are some exceptions. But as a general matter, employers can not go seek that information out. Employers be aware of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and make sure you’re not violating it. Thanks!


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