Employment & Wellness Programs
Learn about laws and legal protections that impact the hereditary cancer community. Learn how to file a grievance or complaint.

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Employment and Wellness programs

In this section we cover:

GINA employment protections

Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), 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 before they get involved in a crime scene investigation. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not required to follow by the employment protections in GINA. See the GINA Overview for information on additional exclusions.

With regard to employment, the Act:

  • Prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, job assignments, promotions, compensation, and other personnel processes;
  • Bans the collection of genetic information, and allows genetic testing only to monitor the adverse effects of hazardous workplace exposures;
  • Requires employers to confidentially maintain genetic information and only disclose it to the employee or under other tightly controlled circumstances;
  • Applies to most employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and training programs.

Wellness Programs 

Employer-sponsored wellness programs are allowed to request medical or genetic information as long as answering the questions and participation is voluntary.

Rules recently established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) allow employers to offer financial incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness programs. As a result, employees who choose not to take part in a wellness program because they want to keep health information about themselves or their spouses private may pay higher health insurance premiums.

Many wellness programs include a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and/or medical exams that are not job-related. It is important to note that certain medical questions and tests must be voluntary. You cannot be penalized for not providing personal genetic information. This includes your genetic test results; your relatives’ genetic test results (up to and including fourth-degree relatives); and/or information about your family history of any disease or disorder.

Filing a Complaint

Victims of genetic discrimination at work should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act, GINA and other federal employment discrimination laws. Complaints may be filed online, by mail, or in person at an EEOC field office. Note that there are time limits for filing charges. For more information, visit the EEOC employment discrimination webpage or call (800) 669-4000.