Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Case Highlights Employee’s Rights

Modern science allows doctors to more accurately predict risk of disease and help patients take important preventative measures to manage or avoid serious medical problems. Because of such diagnostic tools as genetic testing and evaluation of family history, doctors can more effectively shape healthcare treatments to benefit individual patients.

Unfortunately, these valuable medical resources are sometimes misused by employers and insurance companies. In response, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was enacted in November 2009 to protect job candidates, employees and policyholders from discrimination.

In 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit on behalf of employees of Founders Pavilion, Inc. in Corning, N.Y. claiming violations of GINA. The case was settled in January of this year for $370,000. In the Founders Pavilion case, the nursing home requested that job applicants submit to a pre-employment medical exam that included a review of their family medical histories. This lawsuit was the third filed by the EEOC based on GINA and the third alleging systematic, companywide genetic discrimination. But, with the more prolific use of genetic testing, the Founders Pavilion suit is likely only the beginning.

GINA specifically prohibits employers from “requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information.” For the purposes of GINA, genetic information includes:

  • Data about the employee or a family member obtained from a genetic test
  • An employee or family member’s request for genetic services
  • Participation by the employee or family member in clinical research
  • Details related to a family member’s medical condition
  • Family medical history
  • Information derived from genetic testing about an employee or family member’s embryo, fetus or newborn

Your DNA should not affect your right to work. If an employer or insurance company discriminated against you based on genetic information, you may have a valid GINA claim. Discuss your case with a New York City employment discrimination attorney to learn more about your rights and options for relief. Our employment discrimination attorneys serve clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island and throughout the state of New York. We also represent employees employment discrimination cases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania & Washington D.C.

For more information on New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania labor & employment laws, and other types of Sexual Harassment and Employment Discrimination, visit our New York City Employment Law Blog

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