Genetic Information Discrimination in Employment

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, otherwise known by its acronym “GINA”, prohibits genetic information discrimination in employment.

Under this new law, which went into effect on November 21, 2009, it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee or applicant for employment because of genetic information. That is, an employer or potential employer cannot use genetic information in making employment decisions, such as the hiring and/or firing of employees, promotions, job assignments, fringe benefits, etc. Workplace harassment based on genetic information is also prohibited under the law. Such harassing behavior may include the making of offensive or derogatory remarks about an employee’s genetic information, or that of an employee’s family member.

The law also restricts, with few exceptions, the acquisition of genetic information by employers and other entities, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic. All genetic information must be kept in a separate medical file, and not in an employee’s personnel file.

Finally, it is also illegal to retaliate against an employee for filing a charge of discrimination under the law, or for participating in a discrimination proceeding (such as a lawsuit or investigation) or otherwise opposing discrimination.

Title II of GINA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If you have any questions regarding this new law, please feel free to contact The Law Offices of David S. Feather, at (516) 745-9000.