As genetic testing becomes more easily available to the public, the potential grows for discrimination against people based on their genetic information. For example, a woman has been genetically discriminated against if her insurance company drops her coverage after she is discovered to have a genetic disposition towards breast cancer.
Why Should I Care About Genetic Discrimination?
Genetic discrimination has the potential to affect anyone. You or your relatives could lose your jobs or insurance coverage based on reported genetic "abnormalities".
Are There Laws to Protect me From Genetic Discrimination?
Many states have enacted some form of genetic non-discrimination legislation, but the laws are quite varied in their focus and scope. Federal legislation is not yet in place, but it has been proposed several times in the past few years and could be passed at any time. Federal legislation would assure individuals and families that neither health care coverage nor employment status would be jeopardized by their participation in either research or clinical genetic testing.
Am I Protected as a Federal Employee?
Yes. Although federal legislation has not yet been passed that will protect the public as a whole, President Clinton did issue an Executive Order to Prohibit Discrimination in Federal Employment Based on Genetic Information. The Executive Order prohibits discrimination against any federal employee based on protected genetic information, or information about a request for or the receiving of genetic service.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Been Genetically Discriminated Against?
If you feel that you have been genetically discriminated against by your employer or insurer, a good employment lawyer will be able to advise you of your rights and help you choose a course of action to assert those rights.