What Is GINA and Why Is It Important to You as an Employer?
Your employment application questions can set you up for a discrimination lawsuit if you are not within the parameters of federal anti-discrimination laws.
GINA or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act is one of the more recent nondiscrimination laws, passed in 2008. This law bears similarities to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in prohibiting employers from discriminating against applicants or employees based on medical or genetic information, which are often associated with disabilities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently brought a lawsuit based on GINA and the ADA against Bedford Weaving, Inc. located in Virginia. The EEOC alleged that the company included questions on its employment application that asked for medical history and genetic information. Pamela Hendrick, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) applied for work at the company in 2013 and disclosed her medical information in response to questions on the application. The company told Hendrick they had no open positions. However, they in fact had two open positions, and Hendricks qualified for both of them. In addition, companies are required by law to retain applications and hiring documentation for up to one year, and the company failed to do so.
GINA prohibits employers from requesting medical information during the application process and the ADA prohibits requesting disability information.
After parties could not reach a settlement during the pre-litigation conciliation process, the EEOC decided to sue and is seeking damages for back pay, compensation, injunctive relief and punitive damages.
If you have issues arising related to GINA or the ADA, seek legal advice as soon as possible. By working with a competent lawyer, you can often put preventative measures in place to avoid discrimination disputes. Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of legal experience defending employer’s rights in employment litigation and settlement negotiations.
Author: Stephen D. Hans