Final Regulations Issued for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Final Regulations Issued for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
 
Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released final regulations concerning the employment provisions (Title II) of GINA. According to the EEOC, “Title II of GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in making decisions related to any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment (e.g., hiring, firing, and opportunities for advancement); restricts employers and other entities covered by Title II from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information, with limited exceptions; generally requires covered entities to keep any genetic information they have about applicants or employees confidential; and prohibits retaliation.”
 
            Of particular importance to employers are GINA’s provisions dealing with requesting employee health-related information.  Importantly, the final regulations state that employers will be given “safe harbor” for any genetic information they receive if, when requesting the health-related information, the employer issues a specific or substantially similar warning to its employees.  The specific warning provides, “The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information when responding to this request for medical information. ‘Genetic information,’ as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.”
 
Under Title II of GINA, “[a]n aggrieved individual may seek reinstatement, hiring, promotion, back pay, injunctive relief, monetary damages (including compensatory and punitive damages), and attorneys’ fees and costs.”  If you have any questions related to GINA, or other employment related matters, the attorneys to contact at this firm are Madeline S. Wirt and Emily C. Bagwell.  
 
For further information see:   
 
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-9-10.cfm
 
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/gina-background.cfm
 
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/gina_qanda_smallbus.cfm

By: James M. Wright, Attorney
This bulletin provides a general summary of recent legal developments. It is not intended to be and should not be relied upon as legal advice.