A Fairfield, Connecticut woman filed a charge of discrimination last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) against her former employer under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). Under that law, which went into effect in November, 2009, employers may not use an individual’s genetic background in hiring, firing or deciding promotions.
Ms. Pamela Fink joined Mxenergy approximately four years ago, and last held the position of Director of Public Relations and Marketing. In the Spring of 2004, Ms. Fink received a genetic test and tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which can increase one’s risk for breast cancer. By 2009, Ms. Fink opted to have a mastectomy, both because of the genetic test results, and because she has two sisters who are breast cancer survivors.
Ms. Fink informed her employer about her positive genetic test and her need for surgery in August, 2009, and took medical leave approximately two months earlier. In her complaint she asserts that upon her return, a number of her duties were gradually taken away from her, the consultant who had performed some of her duties while she was on leave was named Senior Director of Marketing Communications (and Ms. Fink’s supervisor), Ms. Fink’s bonus potential was reconsidered, she was told to vacate her office, her work began to be criticized, and she received a scathing performance review. Finally, in March, 2010, she was informed that her position had been eliminated, and her employment was terminated.
Since November, 2009, approximately eighty (80) complaints alleging violations of GINA have been filed with the EEOC nationwide, with thirteen (13) of them in the EEOC’s New York District (which covers Main, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont).