Labor Pains: GINA's Turning 6, and She's Learned How to Sue!


One of your employees (we'll call her "Gina") seems depressed, so you ask her "Is everything okay?" Gina responds that she's doing fine, considering that her father has diabetes. Ready to provide compassion and support, you ask Gina about her father's prognosis, treatment, and whether diabetes runs in her family. The following week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sues your company for "genetic discrimination," extracts a six-figure settlement, and brags about it on their website. Science fiction? No.

Unknown to many, in 2008, Congress created the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (innocently referred to as "GINA"). At its core, GINA prohibits employers from requesting or requiring employees or job applicants to provide "genetic information." Because most employers do not conduct DNA testing on employees or applicants, they paid little attention to GINA. GINA, however, goes far beyond outlawing requests for employee DNA. It also – you know it's coming – prohibits employers from asking employees about their "family medical history."

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