The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants on the basis of genetic information or – subject to certain exceptions – requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information with respect to an employee or a family member of the employee.  See 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff-1.  Here’s what employers need to know about GINA:

What Employers Are Subject to GINA?  GINA generally applies to any employer that is also subject to Title VII, including any employer who is engaged in an industry affecting commerce and who has fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such an employer.  See 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff(2)(b).

What is “Genetic Information”?  For purposes of GINA, “genetic information” means information about:  (i) an individual’s genetic tests; (ii) the genetic tests of family members of an individual; (iii) the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of an individual; or (iv) any request for, or receipt of, genetic services, or participation in clinical research which includes genetic services, by an individual or a family member of the individual.  “Genetic information” does not include information about the sex or age of any individual.  See 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff(4).

What Are “Genetic Tests”?  “Genetic test” means an analysis of human DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins, or metabolites, that detects genotypes, mutations, or chromosomal changes.  “Genetic test” does not include an analysis of proteins or metabolites that does not detect genotypes, mutations, or chromosomal changes.  See 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff(7).

What Are “Genetic Services”?  “Genetic services” means:  (i) a genetic test; (ii) genetic counseling (including obtaining, interpreting, or assessing genetic information); or (iii) genetic education.  See 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff(6).

Takeaway:  As with statutes like Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act, familiarity with the requirements of GINA will assist employers to avoid potential liability for employment discrimination.

About Michael Miller

Michael is a Chambers-rated attorney in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits, and Labor group and is head of the firm’s Employment Law Counseling and Compliance practice group. He has 25 years experience counseling employers to prevent unwanted litigation and advises companies of ongoing changes in federal, state and local employment law. Michael advises employers in all areas of employment law including discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, affirmative action plans, background checking, and drug/alcohol testing. For Michael's full bio, click here.

Posted on March 26, 2012, in Discrimination and Harassment and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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