EEOC to Enforce Genetic Nondiscrimination Act

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has assumed responsibility for enforcing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), an important piece of legislation which I blogged about in April and May 2008. This is the first expansion of the EEOC’s enforcement powers since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

The law prohibits discrimination by health insurers and employers based on “genetic information,” which includes the results of genetic tests to determine whether someone is at increased risk of acquiring diseases like cancer. Here in New Jersey, employees already had this protection under state law. With the passage of GINA, all Americans gained a measure of protection against employers who fear that an employee may be predisposed to ill health.

The EEOC’s assumption of responsibility over the enforcement of GINA will make it easier for employees to assert their rights in this area. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov