Employment Law Update
On May 21, 2008, President Bush signed the “Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act,” or “GINA.” GINA is far-reaching in that it intersects with many federal laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Title I of GINA prohibits all health insurers from basing eligibility or premium determinations on genetic information. Title II bans employers, labor unions, and employment agencies from using an individual’s genetic information when making hiring, firing, compensation, and other employment-related decisions. Employers also may not limit, segregate, or classify an employee in a manner that denies employment opportunities based on genetic information. Labor unions may not exclude, expel or otherwise discriminate against an individual based on genetic information. In addition, employers, employment agencies, and labor unions may not request, require, or purchase an employee’s or an employee’s family member’s genetic information unless it falls within specific limited circumstances, such as when the genetic information is needed to meet certification requirements of family and medical leave laws, or will be used to monitor the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace.