What Is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)?

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The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) protects employees and applicant for jobs from genetic discrimination in the workplace and through health insurance they may wish to purchase.

What is GINA?

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff is a Federal anti-discrimination statute that became law in November 2009. The EEOC is responsible for implementing Title II of GINA—a law that prohibits discrimination based on genetic information in employment. Title II of GINA became effective on January 10, 2011. 

Genetic information includes the following:

  • genetic tests of any fetus of an individual or family member; 
  • genetic tests of an individual's family members;
  • any receipt of, or request for, genetic services, or any participation in genetic counseling or genetic testing by an individual or family member;
  • an individual's genetic tests;
  • a disease or disorder in family members (family history).

GINA mandates workplace and health insurance protection which means anyone may get access to their genetic information and as a result make any necessary lifestyle and medical adaptations without being afraid of genetic information discrimination at work or through their health insurance. GINA prohibits employers from making job-related decisions, like firing and hiring based on an employee’s genetic health information. Also it prohibits health insurers from making decisions about cost, eligibility, coverage, or benefits of a health insurance policy based on a person’s genetic information.

There are some limitations to GINA’s protections, one of which relates to insurance when GINA’s protections are limited to health insurance and don’t cover life, disability, or long-term care insurance. Also, small businesses are exempt if they have fewer than 15 employees. The law also is not applicable to anyone receiving insurance through the federal government or the military.

GINA Violations: Using an Employee's Genetic Information  

Common violations of GINA in the workplace are:

  • failing or refusing to hire an applicant;
  • discharging any employee;
  • discrimination against any job applicant or employee in relation to the terms and conditions of employment such as salary, job description and hours worked;
  • limit, classify or segregate employees so that it negatively affects their employment status.

How to Report a GINA Violation

Any person who has the evidence that proves an employer has violated GINA can submit a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. This has to take place within 180 days of the violation taking place, or within 300 days, if a local or state agency enforces a law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of the use or acquisition of genetic information. The EEOC will notify the employer of the charge filed against it and will try to use mediation to settle or resolve the dispute.  If the dispute is not resolved voluntarily, the EEOC will conduct an investigation on behalf of the plaintiff and will inform the person of his or her right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

Get Help With GINA Violation Claim

It is a serious matter if you believe your employer has discriminated against you at work due to genetic information it has had access to. It is in your interest to take the Free Case Evaluation on this page right now to speak with an attorney who can help you gather the evidence that proves you have been a victim of GINA discrimination. The attorney may also help you file for compensation in court.

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