It's not often that we have a new federal statute dealing with employment discrimination. So I was a little surprised that the recent passage and signing into law (on May 21) of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) hasn't gotten more press.
Perhaps it's because employers don't see it as a big issue--at least not yet. This is one of the few instances of the law being proactive. Many employers may not see how this relates to them, but consider the details:
- The law prohibits employers (generally as defined under the CRA of 1964) from failing to hire, or terminating, someone because of genetic information. This is what most people think of, and the language is similar to other statutes that prohibit discrimination (e.g., it also includes compensation discrimination).
- The law also prohibits employers from considering genetic test information from family members of the applicant/employee.
- It does NOT prohibit practices that result in an adverse impact based on genetic information. The law does, however, specify that this will be reviewed 6 years from when the law goes into effect, which is November 21, 2009.
- Finally, it prohibits discrimination based on "the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of such individual." This may be the least known aspect of the law, similar to the ADA provision that prohibits employers from considering a record or perception of a disability.
Remedies in most situations track those under Title VII, and enforcement of the law will be overseen by the EEOC.
For one of the better summaries, check this out.