16. What is the “Genetic Information and Non-Discrimination Act”?
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers (those covered by Title VII) from discriminating (hiring, firing, refusing to hire, or otherwise discriminating) based upon an employee or perspective employee’s genetic information. Genetic information includes any information acquired through an individual’s genetic test or the test of her family members. This could include information about a disease or disorder in the family medical history. GINA also prohibits certain activities by employers that seek to identify or solicit information about an individual’s genetic information.
• Example: An employer is prohibited from requiring any information about genetic tests of the individual, past family members, requests for genetic service, etc. Further, an employer cannot request, require, or purchase genetic information with respect to an employee or the family member of an employee.
• Discussion: Why do you think Congress decided to protect individuals from discrimination based upon their genetic information? Do you agree that prohibiting employers from requesting such information is appropriate? Why or why not?
• Practice Question: ABC Corp provides a service of generating genetic sequence information for customers. Jane applies for a position at the company. ABC Corp requires that all new employees submit to a genetic screening. Jane is afraid that the genetic sequence will expose all sorts of private information about her family and health. She refuses to complete the screening and is not hired. Does Jane have a potential cause of action against ABC Corp?