On January 10, 2011, the regulations implementing the employment aspects of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) went into effect. There are several rules included in the new regulations that employers need to know.
GINA, which passed into law in 2008 and became effective in November 2009, forbids employers from collecting, requesting, using, or disclosing genetic information about their employees. Genetic information is defined under the Act to include information regarding an individual’s or a family member’s genetic tests, family medical history, the individual’s use of genetic services, and genetic information about a fetus being carried by the individual or a family member. Some of the new rules in the regulations include:
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 employees or their family members. In order 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.
Alternative language may also be used, as long as individuals and health care providers are informed that genetic information should not be provided. Employers should update any forms or letters that include requests for medical information to include the basic information in the regulations’ “safe harbor” language.
Employers should make sure that their policies, procedures, and files comply with GINA and should provide training to managers about the law and about questions they should avoid asking employees.
The attorneys of Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment and Labor practice group are available to assist employers with workplace policies, training, and compliance, as well as litigation and dispute resolution. If you have questions about GINA, or other workplace issues, please contact any member of Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment and Labor practice group.
This article is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. You are urged to consult a lawyer concerning any specific legal questions you may have.
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