Genetic information usually refers to an individual’s medical records involving their gene profile.  This is sometimes required or requested of an employer with regards as part of the hiring process.  For instance, certain gene mutations can cause a worker to be more susceptible to certain kinds of occupational diseases.

Genetic information discrimination, or genetic discrimination, may occur in the workplace if an employer treats a worker differently than others based on their genetic profile.  While genetic testing is allowed under certain circumstances, such information cannot be used in a way that is discriminatory in manner.

When is Genetic Testing Allowed?

Some state laws may allow for an employer to institute genetic testing requirements in the workplace.  Again, such practices should not lead to employment discrimination.  Criteria for valid genetic testing may include:

  • The genetic test must be highly accurate
  • The genetic mutation or variation being tested for must be related to an increased susceptibility to an occupational disease
  • The employer provides their consent prior to the administration of the genetic testing
  • The occupational disease is progressing so rapidly in the workplace that monitoring it would be inefficient
  • It would be unduly expensive to attempt to lower toxic factors in the workplace

If these conditions are met, then the employer might be justified in terminating an employee whose genetic information indicates that they might succumb to disease.  Again, these laws and requirements can vary widely by state, by profession, and also according to federal requirements.  To be on the safe side, both employers and employees need to ensure that all parties consent if there is going to be genetic screening. 

What if I Have a Claim for Genetic Information Discrimination?

If you suspect that you have a claim for genetic information discrimination, you should begin compiling evidence that might be useful when filing an employment discrimination lawsuit.  For instance, you should keep any copies or records of medical forms, documents, and related paperwork.  You may also wish to make a log or account of the testing procedures that were implemented by an employee.  This can include dates, the nature of the exam, and your written account of termination or other effects of the testing.

In a discrimination lawsuit, remedies may include a damages award to make up for lost wages and other losses, or a reinstatement back to your job position before termination.

Again, the main preventative measure in such instances is to be aware of your genetic testing right; your consent is the most important aspect of the testing process.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Genetic Information Discrimination Claim?

Genetic testing can involve various issues such as employee privacy, and worker’s rights.  You may wish to hire an employment lawyer if you have any disputes, complaints, or concerns regarding genetic information testing at your workplace.  Your attorney can represent you in court if you need to file a discrimination claim, and can provide you with the legal advice needed to succeed on your claim.