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EEOC accuses company of genetic information discrimination

We often write about employment discrimination in this Broward County Employment Law Blog. Discrimination in employment is illegal in just about any shape or form under federal law. One type of discrimination that we have not discussed very much is genetic information discrimination.

This type of discrimination was made illegal in 2008 when Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The law bars employers from forcing employees or prospective employees to share genetic information, such as their family medical history, for example.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit under GINA today, accusing a nursing and rehabilitation center in New York of violating federal law by requiring potential employees to disclose genetic information during the hiring process. In addition to violating GINA, it accused the employer of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit states that the company performed medical exams of job applicants. If they were hired, they would undergo the exams annually. As part of these exams, the company requested family medical histories.

Employers are not allowed to demand this information. In this case, not only did the company allegedly request this information, but it also used the information to discriminate against employees and applicants.

The EEOC has charged that the company fired two women because of their perceived disabilities, and fired another woman after refusing to provide her with reasonable accomodations, all violations of the ADA. Additionally, the company allegedly fired or refused to hire three women because they were pregnant, a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

This case should be a reminder to Florida residents that their employers cannot demand genetic information from them. Those who have experienced this may benefit from legal counsel.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "EEOC Files Class Genetic Information Discrimination Suit Against Corning Rehab Center," May 16, 2013

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