The new regulations issued by the EEOC under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) became effective on January 10, 2011. The regulations make clear that the law protects applicants, current and former employees, trainees, and apprentices. The EEOC has already received hundreds of charges alleging violations of GINA. Employers must now post new information and take other steps to comply, including the use of "safe harbor" language when requesting health-related information from an employee or healthcare provider.
"But We Don't Collect Genetic Information, So Who Cares?"
Many employers mistakenly believe that they will not likely be affected by the new law to any great extent. But the broadly written regulations point out that due to the "many achievements in the field of genetics, the decoding of the human genome and the creation and increased use of genomic medicine" there is great potential for discrimination and misuse of genetic information by employers. Title I of the law applies to group health plans sponsored by employers. Title II prohibits the use of genetic information by employers, restricts employer requests for genetic information and strictly limits disclosure of genetic information.
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