What is Genetic Discrimination?

Genetic discrimination occurs when an employer uses the results of a genetic test to deny employment or health coverage to those whose results identify increased risk of a certain disorder or disease. Under California law, genetic information is defined as the individual’s genetic tests, the tests of a family member, or a disease experienced by an individual’s family member.

The Federal Government banned genetic testing during employment in 2008, California enacted its own law in 2012 called the California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. This law expands the federal law to include discrimination in finding housing, education, and mortgage lending.

Example of a Workplace Genetic Discrimination Case

In 2001, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for testing their employees for a rare genetic condition in secret. The condition tested had carpal tunnel syndrome as one of its main symptoms. The company used the tests to try to determine if many employee reports of repetitive stress injuries were caused by this condition, and not the demanding work that placed stress on workers’ hand joints. They also screened employees for alcoholism and diabetes, without their knowledge. The EEOC found the tests for alcoholism and diabetes to not be job related, which is illegal.

Genetic information is not allowed to factor into any aspect of your work. If you have been tested, or believe your employer is using family medical history to deny you working benefits and rights, a Los Angeles employment attorney can review your case for free to see if laws have been broken.

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