What is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act? - Barrett & Farahany

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What is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act?

What is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act?

genetic information discrimination, genetic information nondiscrimination act

Genetic information discrimination in the workplace is not a commonly known form of discrimination. If you haven’t experienced it, you may not understand what it is, how it works, or how to spot it. Not knowing what it is and what it entails may even mean that you have been the victim of genetic information discrimination without realizing it.

If you have reason to believe that you’re the victim of such discrimination, you do have recourse. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), passed in 2008, serves to protect workers’ rights to genetic privacy and against genetic discrimination.

If you or a loved one has faced genetic information discrimination in the workplace, the employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany can help you.

Understanding GINA: A Federal Protection Against Genetic Discrimination

GINA is a landmark piece of legislation designed to prevent discrimination based on genetic information in both health insurance and employment. Its primary objectives are to encourage people to take part in genetic research and testing without fear of discrimination, as well as to ensure that their genetic information is kept confidential from insurance companies and employers.

Discrimination in health insurance and employment is not separate. If your employer offers health benefits, they will try to share your information with their health insurance or allow the benefits they originally offered you to be denied. Thanks to GINA, being denied based on your genetic information is illegal.

Who Does GINA Cover?

GINA covers virtually all Americans and applies to employees and job applicants, protecting them from genetic discrimination.

Protections Under GINA: The Pillars of Workplace Security

GINA offers a dual-pronged approach to securing someone’s genetic data through employment provisions and health insurance protections.

Employment Discrimination: Hiring, Firing, and Promotion

Under GINA, it is illegal for employers to use genetic information when making decisions about:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Job assignments
  • Promotions

This includes any aspect of employment, such as compensation and terms and conditions of employment.

Health Insurance Discrimination: Protecting Your Coverage

Health insurers are also constrained from asking for or using genetic information when making decisions about coverage. This ensures that your health remains a personal matter and not a deciding factor in your insurance options.

Exceptions and Limitations to GINA

Employer obligations under GINA do not extend into certain arenas. Understanding these exemptions and limitations is vital to grasp the full extent of GINA’s protections.

Employer Obligations and Responsibilities

While GINA is expansive in its reach, it does not prevent employers from learning about an employee’s family medical history. Employers also maintain the right to obtain genetic information in certain cases, such as services for occupational health purposes.

Genetic Testing and Confidentiality: The Balance of Rights

Employers must keep genetic information confidential and separate from personnel files. This mandate is to ensure that such information is only accessible to those who need it.

Implications for Workplace Discrimination Victims: How GINA Empowers Workers

For those who suspect they have been subjected to genetic information discrimination, GINA provides a potent recourse. It gives power to victims, enabling them to take a stand against unfair treatment.

The first step is the claim process, followed by potential litigation. Engaging with legal counsel experienced in employment law can help you gain the resolution and closure you desire.

Contact the Employment Law Attorneys at Barrett & Farahany

Victims of genetic discrimination in the workplace should seek counsel. The attorneys at Barrett & Farahany are well-versed in employment law and can be a guiding light through the complex terrain of GINA violations. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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Barrett & Farahany

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Atlanta, GA 30326

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Birmingham, AL 35203

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