EEOC Issues Final Regulations for Employers Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

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On Nov. 9, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (‘‘EEOC’’) issued its final regulations implementing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (‘‘GINA’’).1 These regulations underscore GINA’s broad implications for employers, which reach far beyond genetic testing. They will become effective Jan. 10, 2011.

GINA was signed into law by President Bush in May 2008, and its employment protections took effect in November 2009. GINA restricts employers from seeking genetic information, prohibits employers from using genetic information in employment decisions, requires employers to keep genetic information confidential, and places strict limits on an employer’s disclosure of genetic information.2 Significantly, ‘‘genetic information’’ includes not only genetic test results, but also family medical history. The new regulations will affect many common employment practices, including preemployment medical examinations, voluntary wellness programs, and leaves of absence procedures and documentation.

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