GINA Poster Required

Effective November 21, 2009 employers are required to display a new federal poster. Employers must display a GINA poster in an area where all employees can see it.

This new federal posting requirement applies to virtually every employer, even if they never engage in genetic testing.


GINA, of course, is the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act of 2008. Under GINA, employers are prohibited from gathering information on an employee’s genetic makeup. Employers are also prohibited from considering an employee’s genetic information in making employment decisions.


Health insurance providers cannot discriminate against consumers, based on genetic information under GINA. For example, a health insurance company could not refuse to cover an individual, simply because her mother, grandmother and aunt all had breast cancer. Even if genetic testing showed that the consumer had a gene for breast cancer, that alone would not be sufficient cause for the health insurance company to deny her coverage.


The GINA prohibition on gathering genetic information also includes taking information on an employee’s family medical history – especially hereditary illnesses like heart disease, breast cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other inherited conditions.


GINA covers a wide variety of mental health conditions including depression, Continue reading

GINA Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Goes Into Effect

Employers should be aware that GINA imposes even more stringent confidentiality laws than HIPAA does, regarding genetic information and an employee’s family medical history.


On November 21, 2009, Title II of GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, will go into effect. This portion of the law prohibits employees from discrimination against an individual based on genetic testing. Title I of the law, which went into effect in May 2009, prohibits health insurance providers from discrimination against an individual based on genetic testing.


For example, a health insurance company could not refuse to cover an individual because he or she had a genetic predisposition for breast cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Nor could an employer refuse to hire an employee, based on that genetic information. In fact, it would be a violation of the law for the employer to even acquire information about an employee’s genetic profile.


More than 13 years in the making, GINA was signed into law by President George W. Bush on May 21, 2008.  The law was passed partly out of concern that individuals were refusing genetic testing, which might have improved their health care, because they feared discrimination from employers or health insurance providers.


The EEOC recently released GINA guidelines for employers to be in compliance with this new law.


Under Title II, GINA prohibits employers from intentionally Continue reading

ADA Update for Employers

Many employers struggle to understand the new EEOC definition of disability under the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The ADAAA or ADA Amendments Act of 2008, significantly increases the number of employees who are considered disabled under the ADA. In fact, some estimates are that the ADAAA has tripled the number of “disabled” employees, simply by changing the definition of disabled.


In fact, according to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, the majority of employees over the age of 50 may now be covered under ADA. That is because all that is required under the new regulations is that the individual have some deterioration in their body, and most individuals over 50 have such deterioration.


The new definition of disabled includes individuals Continue reading

2009 EEOC Changes

Every employer should be aware that the EEOC definition of a disabled employee changes on January 1, 2009.


A new law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008, or ADAA, expands the definition of disability in the workplace. The original ADA, passed in 1990, requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.  Initially the term “employees with disabilities” was interpreted very broadly. A number of court cases have restricted that definition over the years. The 2008 act is a return to the less restrictive definition of disability.


The new ADAA even overturns several of the EEOC’s previous regulations regarding who is and is not disabled under the law. The agency is still creating final regulations under ADAA.


Under the old EEOC regulations, an employee had to have a condition that “substantially limited” his or her ability to perform one of several “major life activities” in order to be considered. Major life activities included grooming and dressing oneself, shopping and preparing food, taking public transportation or using a phone book.


The new ADAA expands that list of “major life activities” to include Continue reading

Exceptions to 2008 Oregon Non-compete Law

The Oregon non-compete law prohibits noncompetition agreements between employers and hourly workers, in almost all cases.


However, under this new law, employers are still permitted to have management and sales employees sign non-compete agreements. The agreements limit the employee’s ability to work for a competitor, at least for a period of time.


Such non-compete agreements – even voluntary ones – are illegal when applied to hourly or salaried non-exempt employees under Oregon law.


The law set limits on the Continue reading

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