Many people undergo genetic testing in order to find new therapies and cures for certain diseases that they may have. While this testing can help improve their health, many fear that they will face discrimination based solely on their genetics. While this may seem far-fetched, unfortunately many people have been turned down for jobs or even laid off based on their genetic information.
This is why the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 was created. GINA applies to both employment and health insurance. Under the law, employers cannot use genetic information to make employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, pay, and assignments. Employers also cannot request genetic tests and other related information as a condition of employment. This means they cannot request information such as genetic tests of the employee or any family members, genetic information about fetuses, family medical history, or ask the employee to perform any genetic services. However, once a person is hired, the employer is allowed to request medical information that is job-related and required for business purposes.
GINA has some exceptions. It does not apply to smaller employers with fewer than 15 employees. It also does not cover long-term care, disability, or life insurance.
How GINA Relates to the EEOC
In some cases, GINA can be related to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which means that an employee may have certain rights and protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is because it is possible that some genetic information can be tied to race. For example, many African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait, so it is possible that an employee could claim race discrimination in certain situations.
Also, if a person is disabled due to a genetic issue, that person cannot be discriminated against due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, those disabled due to genetics have the same protections as those with other disabilities.
Proving Discrimination Based on Genetic Information
Determining whether or not discrimination occurred based solely on genetic information can be difficult to determine. However, it is a valid concern due to rapid advances in genetic research. Genetic information that an employer obtains today can be used in the future to discriminate against future generations of workers.
If a person knowingly provided employers with genetic information and was treated negatively because of it, that person should file a charge with the EEOC and have the agency investigate.
Contact a New York Employee Discrimination Lawyer
Employees should not face discrimination or termination based on their genetic makeup, since that is something they cannot control. Certain genetic traits are common among certain races, so many people who face genetic discrimination also face race discrimination.
Genetic information should not affect how well a person does his or her job. Therefore, if you believe you were terminated because of this, contact the attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. We are knowledgeable of all the state and federal laws that apply and can help you obtain appropriate compensation. Schedule a free consultation by calling our office at (347) 464-8694.