Genetic Nondiscrimination Update: New GINA Regulations

Employers need to train managers and supervisors to avoid illegal genetic discrimination under GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act . Recent regulations issued by the EEOC mean the employer, manager or supervisor must caution the employee not to reveal genetic information, even when the supervisor is casually expressing concern.


In practice, the new regulations mean that an employer should:

·    Immediately notify all employees in writing not to share family medical history or genetic information, preferably using the EEOC language

·    Notify employees again whenever health information is requested verbally or in writing

·    Warn supervisors to limit queries about the employee’s medical conditions, and that of their family members, no matter how well meaning those requests might be


On November 9, 2010 the EEOC issued Continue reading

GINA Poster Update – Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act

Any employer who is not prominently displaying a GINA Non-Discrimination poster is in violation of the law.


Effective Nov. 21, 2009 the GINA mandatory posting requirement went into effect, meaning that employers can be fined or penalized for not complying.


Under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, employers are prohibited from gathering information regarding an employee’s genetic predisposition for disease. This includes querying an employee before or after hiring about a family history of heart disease or cancer, just to cite one example.


This law does not cover lifestyle issues such as smoking, drinking alcohol, handgun ownership or use of seat belts.


GINA was signed into law by then-president George W. Bush on May 21, 2008. The law primarily addresses genetic discrimination by by health insurance companies. It addresses a fear that, for example, a health insurance provider might refuse coverage to a healthy individual, merely because his father and grandfather died of heart attacks.


The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits insurance companies and employers from discriminating on the basis of information obtained through genetic testing. With more than 40 genetic tests for various health conditions available, the fear Continue reading

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