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New state genetic discrimination law exceeds federal measure

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently signed an update to the state’s decade-old genetic nondiscrimination law, which prohibits employers from using genetic information against employees.

In some situations, the state law exceeds the protections granted under the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) enacted this spring. For example, the Illinois law applies to employers of any size, while GINA applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. The state law also applies to some civil servants not covered by GINA.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group that helped push GINA through the Legislature, hopes the new law will encourage people to embrace genetic testing, spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said.

He said consumers have nothing to fear from the tests, since health care plans are already forbidden from using genetic information to make underwriting or coverage decisions.

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