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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For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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