Preventive Law for Employers

Hello, GINA!

No, Gina is not my new neighbor, but a bill signed into  federal law in May, 2008:  the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.

The new law prohibits employers of 15 or more employees from:

  1. discriminating against employees and applicants on the basis of genetic information, which is defined as
    “information about (i) such individual’s genetic tests, (ii) the genetic tests of family members of such individual, and (iii) the manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of such individual.”
  2. requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information (limited exceptions apply, such as for FMLA certifications)
  3. retaliating against individuals who exercise their rights under the law; and
  4. disclosing an individual’s genetic information, which is considered confidential medical information under ADA and HIPAA (limited exceptions apply).

There are also sections that amend ERISA and HIPAA , and  which prohibit group health plans from discriminating against individuals in terms of enrollment eligibility and premiums based on genetic information; and requesting or requiring that employees or their family members undergo genetic tests.

The employment provisions of GINA are effective November 21, 2009.    Interestingly, all Title VII remedies are available, but disparate impact claims are expressly barred.  The EEOC will be enforcing GINA, and should issue final regulations by 5/21/09.

The text of the bill is at:

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Who is Ann Kiernan?

Ann Kiernan is an employment lawyer who has been practicing law in New Jersey for more than 30 years. She represents only employers and management and regularly provides management training companies big and small. Employment law is constantly changing, and Ann is familiar how these changes affect employers. To keep up-to-date and learn what issues are currently affecting businesses and employers in New Jersey, read the blog.

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Ann may be reached via telephone at 732-846-3201 and email.

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