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What managers need to know about GINA

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The Genetic Information Non­­dis­­crimi­­na­­tion Act of 2008 (GINA) was founded on the concern that advancements in the field of genetics could lead to the misuse of genetic information to discriminate against individuals in health insurance and employment.

GINA regulations define “genetic information” as:

  • An individual’s genetic tests
  • The genetic tests of family members of the individual
  • The manifestation of a disease or disorder in the individual’s family members.

GINA regulations apply to public and private employers with 15 or more workers. That means employers subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—those with 50 or more workers within 75 miles—are subject to GINA regulations.

Under GINA, it is illegal to:

  • Use genetic information to make adverse employment decisions
  • Use genetic information to limit, segregate or classify employees in a way that negatively affects them
  • Acquire (i.e., request, require or purchase) genetic information
  • Disclose genetic information
  • Retaliate against employees who exercise their rights under GINA.

Manager concerns

What if you accidentally overhear an employee telling a co-worker about how breast cancer runs in her family?

The acquisition of genetic information in this way does not violate GINA, but using the information against the employee (such as denying her a promotion because of it) could.

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