Genetic Discrimination

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits group health plans from requiring genetic testing, using genetic information for underwriting purposes, and adjusting premiums or contributions based on genetic information. GINA similarly restricts use of genetic information by health insurance issuers offering coverage in the individual market.

GINA’s employment provisions prohibit the use of genetic information in employment, bar the intentional acquisition of genetic information about applicants and employees, and impose strict confidentiality requirements.

How does genetic information affect workplace practices?

GINA prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants or employees in hiring, firing, and in the terms and conditions of employment based on genetic information.

Employers must be sure that required physical examinations do not include genetic testing and that examination results provided to the employer do not include genetic information (e.g., family medical history). In addition, employers may not request, require, or purchase genetic information about employees, applicants, former employees, or their family members.

A request for genetic testing may also violate other laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which strictly limits medical inquiries or exams.

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