• Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA)
  • November 10, 2009 | Author: Chad C. Almy
  • Law Firm: Troutman Sanders LLP - Atlanta Office
  • Title II of GINA bars covered employers from using genetic information to make decisions related to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Although the bill was signed into law back in May of 2008, Title II is set to take effect on November 21st of this year. In preparation for the impending effective date, employers should also take note of several other GINA provisions: GINA prohibits covered employers from intentionally obtaining employees’ genetic information, requires that all employee genetic information be kept confidential, and prohibits any sort of retaliation against employees for exercising any of their rights under the Act. If this framework sounds familiar, it should -- Title II of GINA provides for the same legal remedies as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The newly written GINA regulations were published in the Federal Register on October 7, 2008.

    The legislation is unique because it is geared toward preventing future breaches of employee privacy, rather than remedying any existing pattern of abuse. GINA is designed to encourage individuals to utilize genetic testing for medical needs, including the diagnosis of potential illnesses, by ensuring that employers cannot then use that information as the basis for an adverse employment decision. The Act generally prohibits employers from asking for, requiring, or buying genetic information about its current and prospective employees.

    Employers should keep abreast of this new Act in the future as genetic testing becomes increasingly prevalent in our society.