GINA was established to prevent employers from discriminating against potential employees based on the results of genetic testing. This means employers may not use the results of genetic testing to make decisions such as hiring, firing, or setting compensation. Further, employers are required to keep confidential any medical information obtained.
The legislative intent behind the law was to encourage more people to take advantage of genetic testing without the fear of being fired. Genetic testing is important because it helps individuals predict certain risks associated with diseases and may assist in preventing such diseases early.
Genetic discrimination occurs when people are treated disparately because of an individual’s predisposition to certain medical conditions.
Many states have established statues to comply with GINA. For example, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B § 4, which went into effect in July of 2012, states that it is unlawful for employers to;
- Refuse to hire or employ, represent, grant
membership to, or license a person on the basis of that person's genetic
- Collect, solicit or require disclosure of
genetic information from any person as a condition of employment, or
membership, or of obtaining a license;
- Solicit submission to, require, or administer
a genetic test to any person as a condition of employment, membership, or
obtaining a license;
- Offer a person an inducement to undergo a
genetic test or otherwise disclose genetic information;
- Question a person about their genetic
information or genetic information concerning their family members, or inquire
about previous genetic testing;
- Use the results of a genetic test or other
genetic information to affect the terms, conditions, compensation or privileges
of a person's employment, representation, membership, or the ability to obtain
- Terminate or refuse to renew a person's
employment, representation, membership, or license on the basis of a genetic
test or other genetic information; or
- Otherwise seek, receive, or maintain genetic information for non-medical purposes
Thus, employers must proceed with caution when requesting sensitive health information from potential employees.
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