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What's the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act?

Have you ever wondered what your genes might say about your personality and working habits? Perhaps you happen to possess the gene combination that scientists claim will contribute to you being a bad accountant. Or, maybe you don't have the "doctor gene." If your employer was to make a hiring decision based on this information, it could be a violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which became effective in 2009.

By virtue of GINA, your employer might not be able to make any kind of employment-related decisions or harass you on the basis of your genetic information. This law applies to all employers who have 15 or more workers. Here's the definition of genetic information under GINA:

  • Information obtained from genetic tests
  • Information obtained from genetic tests of someone's family members.
  • Information about a disease that manifests in someone's family.
  • Information obtained about someone asking for genetic services.
  • The genes that make up a fetus that someone's family member is carrying

Under GINA, your genetic information is not relevant when it comes to determining your ability to hold down a job and carry out various job tasks. Therefore, employers cannot use this information when deciding how much to pay you, whether to hire or fire you, whether to lay you off or whether to award you benefits and other job-related decisions. If you suspect that your employer has discriminated against you, learn more about your legal options as soon as you can. An experienced attorney can provide more information so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

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