• EEOC Requires Employers to Use New Poster or Supplement
  • December 21, 2009
  • Law Firm: Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson, LLP - Atlanta Office
  • The employment-related provisions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) took effect on November 21, 2009. The employment-related aspects of the law, found in Title II of GINA, are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Although the EEOC has yet to finalize implementing regulations, the agency has published a new nondiscrimination poster that incorporates the new information about GINA. Employers should currently be using the new poster or a supplement.

    GINA prohibits the use of "genetic information" in any decision related to employment, including hiring, firing, compensation, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, or any other term or condition of employment. In short, an employer may never use genetic information to make a decision related to an individual's employment. It is important to note that the definition of "genetic information" includes any information about an individual's family medical history. GINA also prohibits harassment in the workplace based upon genetic information and retaliation against anyone who opposes such discrimination or participates in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit. GINA imposes restrictions upon the acquisition of genetic information by employers and other entities and strictly limits the disclosure of any genetic information that is lawfully acquired.

    There are some limited exceptions to the general prohibition upon acquiring genetic information. For example, an employer would not violate the law if it inadvertently overheard an employee discussing his or her family medical history. The exceptions will likely be construed very narrowly, so prudent employers will adopt appropriate workplace policies to prevent acquisition, or use, of genetic information.

    The new EEOC "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law" poster can be downloaded from the agency's website using the following link: http://www1.eeoc.gov/employers/poster.cfm. Employers must post the revised notice or a new Supplement which can be posted next to prior versions of the poster.

    As a reminder, the employment provisions of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) are effective now.