Thanks to GINA, Employers Can No Longer Use Your DNA Against You

genetic testingGINA -- the employment provisions (Title II) of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act -- is now final, reports the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What this means is that your genetic information is safe from use by your employer. For example, suppose your genetic profile indicates a predisposition to breast cancer. Before GINA, employers might have requested that information from you before hiring to keep down their medical insurance premiums. When they saw that information it could have constituted a red flag not to hire you. That can't happen now.

Thanks to GINA, employers can't require or request genetic information from job applicants, employees or the employee's family members. If employers are voluntarily provided with genetic information by employees, as in wellness programs, that data must be kept confidential.

There are a few exceptions that you should know about. They include:

  • If genetic information is already in your file at work, the employer doesn't have to delete it. However, the employer cannot use it.
  • If the employer stumbles across genetic information about you, for example online, that's not breaking the law. But the employer can't use that data.
  • If employer receives genetic information about you as part of the medical file submitted for a disability or leave, that's not a violation of the law. That will be the case if the employer had already asked the health care provider to not release that information.

The benefit for you from GINA is that you now know you won't be penalized if you decide to undergo genetic screening. Before GINA was final, some people hesitated, not sure what could or would happen if that data somehow became part of their employment fie.

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