EEOC Focusing on GINA

Recent EEOC settlements indicate that the agency is aggressively pursuing employers for violations of the federal Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA). GINA prohibits the use of genetic information, which includes family medical history, in making employment decisions, restricts employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information.  Similarly, under Oregon law, it is an unlawful employment practice for any employer to subject any employee or prospective employee to any genetic test or to seek to obtain, to obtain or to use genetic information of an employee or a prospective employee.  An employer who requires employees or applicants to complete a medical questionnaire in connection with a pre-offer medical examination will violate GINA (and Oregon law) if that questionnaire includes questions about the employee’s family medical history.   Of course, the employer will also violate these laws if it denies employment to an applicant based on their family medical history.

Bottom line: double-check any forms used in connection with employee/applicant medical examinations and (with the exception of forms used to certify medical leave to care for a family member) delete any questions that solicit information about family medical history.

More information about GINA can be found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm

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