Does Your Job Application Ask about Family Health History?

If it does, you are violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). GINA prohibits employers from requesting or using genetic information in the hiring process.  Practically, that means an employer cannot ask an employee or applicant if anyone in their family suffers from a disease or illness, and cannot require disclosure of this information as a condition of employment.  In a case recently filed by the EEOC, the alleged GINA violation arose from the employer’s “Employee Health Assessment” form, which asked employees and applicants to “indicate any illnesses experienced by family members, including health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, mental illness, epilepsy and cancer.”  The employer required applicants to complete the form before being hired, and annually after being hired.  It is unclear what defense the employer might raise.  However, if you have questions about family health/medical history in your application or other documents that employees are required to complete, those questions should be deleted as soon as possible (i.e. NOW).

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