New Anti Employment Discrimination Law Prohibits Genetic Discrimination

In November 2009, GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, officially went into law, prohibiting employment discrimination based on DNA related differences. GINA is an extremely young law and a broad one at that. So, it may take some time before its repercussions manifest in the real world of workers and employers.

Here is a quick primer on what GINA is and how it may be applied.

GINA-The basics
On May 21, 2008, President Bush signed GINA into law. The legislation makes it illegal for employers and insurers to discriminate against workers because of their DNA.

What’s an example of an employer discriminating based on DNA (that GINA prohibits)?

A boss profiles job applicants based on their past health histories to “weed out” prospective employees with bad genes.

What’s an example of insurance discrimination based on DNA?

A health insurer refuses to cover a man (or imposes additional premiums) based on the fact that other members of his family – including even distant cousins and great grandparents — have a higher than average history of prostate cancer.

Are all insurers bound by GINA?

No. GINA does not cover long-term care, disability, or life insurance.

How will GINA impact state laws designed to prevent genetic discrimination?

Prior to GINA’s passage, a number of states had adopted genetic nondiscrimination laws. The federal legislation will not weaken any of the state laws, but it does create a minimum standard of protection for employees and job applicants.

Where can you read more about the legislation?

The full text of GINA (also known as HR 493) can be found by following this link. (Will insert link later).

What if your loved one has suffered genetic discrimination?

To build an effective case, you may want to consult with the attorneys here at Joseph & Kirschenbaum. Call our offices at (212) 688-5640, or take a look at the resources we have on our website, www.jhllp.com. Don’t allow worries about employment discrimination, retaliation, or harassment keep you up at night. Get a free consultation from attorneys who have the credentials and compassion to help you strategize effectively.