What is Genetic Information Discrimination
Employment laws prohibit discrimination against employees or applicants because of their genetic information. This form of discrimination is called genetic information discrimination.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits the use of genetic information when making employment decisions, and from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information from employees.
The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) similarly prohibits, with a few exceptions, soliciting, requiring, or administering a genetic test as a term or condition of employment, affecting the terms or condition of employment of any person who obtains a genetic test, terminating an employee who obtains a genetic test, or from offering employment or any other consideration (such as money or another form of compensation) to someone in return for submitting to a genetic test.
Violators can even be held criminally liable in Wisconsin for performing a genetic test on an employee without that employee’s written and informed consent.
What is “Genetic Information”
Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual’s family members (i.e. family medical history).
Genetic Information & Confidentiality
With a few exceptions, the law prohibits disclosure of genetic information about employees and applicants. Genetic information must be kept confidential and in a separate medical file. Genetic information may be kept in the same file as other medical information in compliance with the ADA.
Genetic Information Harassment
Federal law also prohibits harassment of a person because of his or her genetic information. Genetic information harassment occurs when offensive comments made by someone in the workplace about the employee’s genetic information. The harasser can be the employee’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
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