GINA: It’s More Than Just a Pretty Name

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The employment-related provisions (Title II) of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 took effect November 21, 2009. Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the GINA, issued proposed regulations in March 2009, the final regulations were issued only last week. They will take effect January 10, 2011.

The GINA appears eminently reasonable on its face, but it is riddled with traps and technicalities that could create problems for inattentive employers.

In general, “GINA prohibits use of genetic information in employment decisionmaking, restricts acquisition of genetic information, requires that genetic information be maintained as a confidential medical record, and places strict limits on disclosure of genetic information.” Although this sounds unremarkable, an individual’s family history is considered “genetic information.” Thus, an essential part of most medical examinations is generally off-limits.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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