Your genetic profile contains a wealth of information about your health and susceptibility to certain diseases, indicating your likelihood of developing certain conditions and diseases. Since many employers would like to use this information to make hiring and promotion decisions, federal law prohibits the use of genetic discrimination of any kind. Here are answers to common questions about this relatively new area of employment law.
A Guide to Genetic Discrimination
What is genetic discrimination?
Any situation in which an employer uses an individual’s genetic information as a basis for hiring, promotion, and termination decisions is considered discrimination. For instance, an employer may not decide against hiring a qualified candidate because she carries the gene for breast cancer, or demote a competent employee because they may develop cystic fibrosis.
Why would employers engage in genetic discrimination?
If allowed, employers may use your genetic profile for a variety of reasons that benefit them. Some may be influenced by fear or unpopular stereotypes of individuals with certain diseases, while most don’t want to contain health care expenses.
Are employers ever allowed to collect genetic information?
Requesting a DNA sample is strictly forbidden under federal law, but there are some situations in which an employer is allowed to collect limited genetic information. For instance, you may submit DNA through a voluntary work-sponsored wellness program, the results of which are stripped of any identifying information. They may also access any medical information that is publicly available through journal articles, personal writings, or medical texts.
Does nondiscrimination law protect every employee?
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act only applies to businesses with more than 15 employees, as well as all state and federal workers. However, many states have additional statutes that may extend these protections to smaller businesses and further restrict how this information is used.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of genetic discrimination, the attorneys at Charles H. Brower Law Corporation will review your case, identify your options, and strive to ensure justice is done. With over 30 years of legal experience and a reputation throughout Oahu for providing aggressive representation, you can rely on their team to achieve the best possible outcome. Visit their website for more on their employment law services, or call (808) 526-2688 to discuss your legal problem and schedule an initial consultation.