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EEOC files first-ever GINA class action

Commission’s suit signals crackdown on genetic discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is ramping up its enforcement of a law that forbids genetic discrimination among employers.

Last week, the commission announced that it filed a class action against the rehabilitation and nursing facility Founders Pavilion Inc. using the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The five-year-old law prohibits employers from using genetic information to discriminate against prospective and current employees.

According to the suit, Founders Pavilion inappropriately used information in mandatory medical questionnaires to discriminate against job applicants. The EEOC claims the facility refused to hire women who were pregnant or who it perceived had disabilities.

The suit is a reminder to employers that GINA places restrictions on gathering such genetic information.

“It’s not just about prohibitions on discrimination based on genetic information, but very strict restrictions on the collection of information—that’s really where employers need to be sure they’re in compliance,” Ilyse Wolens Schuman, co-chair of the Workplace Policy Institute at Littler Mendelson, told Thomson Reuters.

The EEOC’s class action comes on the heels of a $50,000 settlement it obtained in the first GINA case it ever brought. In that case, the commission claimed Fabricut, a fabric distributor, violated GINA and the Americans with Disabilities Act by asking a woman proscribed questions about her medical background and refusing to hire her because it believed she had carpel tunnel syndrome.

Read more InsideCounsel articles about the EEOC:

Labor: How much information can an employer request in a doctor’s note?

Labor: Top 10 employee handbook provisions to dust off while spring cleaning

Labor: Separation of church and work

Labor: The dos and don’ts of using of arrest and conviction records to deny employment

Labor: Disabled employees have a leg up for reassignment to vacant positions in certain states

Labor: EEOC’s attack on maximum leave policies creates major headaches for employers

Judge tosses discrimination suit against Kaplan

Medical information not confidential if disclosed in response to general inquiry


Ashley Post

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