California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

May. 8 2008

U.S. Congress Passes Bill Prohibiting Genetic Discrimination

Topics: New Laws & Legislation

Employers are soon to be prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their genetic information.

Last week, the U.S. House ofRepresentativespassed a billon a vote of 414-1,called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits employers from using genetic data in hiring, firing,and other workplace decisions affecting employment.GINAalso requires employers to maintain genetic information strictly confidential in compliance with the ADA and HIPAA. The bill also forbids insurance companies fromusing an individual's genetic information to deny or limit coverage, or establish different rates. Thesame billunanimously passed the Senate on April 24.

Genetictests are now regularly used todetermine an individual's predisposition fordiseases such as cysticfibrosis, breast and prostate cancer, diabetesand Lou Gehrig's disease. As genetic testing has become more prevalent in society,the U.S. Congress hasenacted GINAto address widespread concern that such information would be misused, especially in the health care and employment arenas.

President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill. The employer provisions of the bill will take effect in November 2009, after the U.S. Department of Labor has had an opportunity to enact implementing regulations.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent represents employers, including major food and retail companies, in all types of employment litigation: wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract, wage and hour (California Labor Code) and unfair competition. She also regularly counsels and advises California employers on issues of compliance with California and federal employment laws.
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