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Hereditary Cancer Info > Privacy & Legal Issues > Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

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Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

There are laws that protect the rights of people with an inherited mutation or hereditary cancer.

GINA and employment

Employers may not use genetic information to make decisions involving hiring, firing, job assignments, and promotions. Employers may not request, require, or purchase genetic information about you or your family members. There are some exceptions to this rule: for instance, people employed in law enforcement might be required to submit DNA samples prior to becoming involved with crime scene investigation. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not required to abide by the employment protections set forth by GINA

With regard to employment discrimination, the Act:

  • prohibits discrimination in hiring, compensation, and other personnel processes;
  • prohibits the collection of genetic information, and allow genetic testing only to monitor the adverse effects of hazardous workplace exposures;
  • requires genetic information possessed by employers to be confidentially maintained and disclosed only to the employee or under other tightly controlled circumstances;
  • covers employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, and training programs.

Victims of genetic discrimination in the workplace can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the organization responsible for enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act, GINA, and other federal employment discrimination statutes. The EEOC may be able to help some, but not all, applicants and employees who believe they have been subjected to genetic discrimination. Individuals who believe that they have faced discrimination on this basis should contact their local EEOC office. Local EEOC offices can be identified by consulting the Commission’s website, the federal government listings in the telephone directory, or by calling a toll-free information number at (800) 669-4000 or (800) 669-6820 (TDD). Time frames control the filing of charges of employment discrimination. Private sector employees may have as little as 180 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act to initiate a claim. Federal government employees must contact an EEO counselor at their agency within 45 days of the act of alleged discrimination.
(Source: Communication with the EEOC).

updated 05/25/16

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