Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Employment Provisions Take Effect

Nov 23, 2009

On November 21, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) took effect for all employers with 15 or more employees and it took effect for individual health insurance plans last May.

GINA was passed by Congress last year and prohibits the use by employers of genetic or family medical history in making hiring, firing, promotion or job placement decisions. Employers cannot require employees to undergo a genetic screening or ask employees for such medical information.

In related news, NASW joined various groups on a letter to the Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service stating our opposition to any delay or weakening of the GINA regulations. The letter states, “any delay in implementation would continue to allow employers to inquire about employees’ private genetic information or their families’ medical history, while penalizing employees who choose to keep that information private; any such exemption would create a loophole to significantly weaken the protections afforded to employees and the American people under GINA”.