According to the GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act) which deals with genetic discrimination of employees in the workplace states that an employer may not use an individual’s genetic information to make employment decisions concerning hiring, firing, promotions, training, harassment, and other things such as health insurance.
The term, “genetic information” also includes information concerning an individual’s family medical history.
There are some exceptions where an employer gets the genetic information:
- In some cases, an employer accidentally gets the genetic information by overhearing two employees talking about the results from their 23andMe personal genetics tests.
- Your employer can also ask for genetic information as a part of the health services offered. Here, genetic information should be only for a service that is only for promoting the health of a person.
- Also, genetics tests information is needed to certify leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
- In many cases, the employer gets the information through publicly available documents.
- As a part of a genetic monitoring program, an employer checks the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace.
- If the employer is in the business of conducting DNA testing for law enforcement, he/she can obtain genetic information from employees to check any DNA sample contamination.
Read more: Recent developments in forensic DNA analysis
Remember that, GINA is a fairly new law, but it seems to have enough power to provide practical protection for employees. Some states, such as Virginia, also have their own laws outlawing genetic discrimination in the workplace.