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The EEOC today issued final regulations implementing the employment provisions of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

GINA prohibits use of genetic information to make decisions about health insurance and employment, and restricts the acquisition and disclosure of genetic information. Title II of GINA represents the first legislative expansion of the EEOC’s jurisdiction since the ADA was enacted in 1990.

GINA took effect on Nov. 21, 2009. It applies to all employers covered by Title VII.

Download the final regulations at http://eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm.

The final regulations:

  • Provide examples of genetic tests
  • More fully explain GINA’s prohibition against requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information
  • Provide model language employers can use when requesting medical information from employees to avoid acquiring genetic information
  • Describe how GINA applies to genetic information obtained via electronic media, including web sites and social networking sites.

The EEOC web link also leads to two question-and-answer documents on the final GINA regulations, one of which is designed to help small businesses comply with the law.

Congress enacted GINA with strong bipartisan support in 2008, in response to concerns that patients would decline to take advantage of the increasing availability of genetic testing out of concern that they could lose their jobs or health insurance if such tests revealed adverse information.

Advice: If you haven't done so already, immediately review any health risk assessments you use as part of your wellness plan. That's the most likely trouble spot for employers that may run afoul of GINA's provisions. Make sure wellness program questions don’t ask employees to reveal protected genetic information.

Genetic information includes information about:

  • Individuals’ genetic tests and the tests of their family members
  • Family medical history
  • Requests for and receipt of genetic services by an individual or a family member
  • Genetic information about a fetus carried by an individual or family member or of an embryo legally held by the individual or family member using assisted reproductive technology.

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