Six exceptions to employer prohibitions on acquiring genetic information are

  • Inadvertent acquisitions of genetic information do not violate GINA, such as in situations where a manager or supervisor overhears someone talking about a family member’s illness.
  • Voluntary disclosure: Genetic information (such as family medical history) may be obtained as part of health or genetic services, including wellness programs, offered by the employer on a voluntary basis, if certain specific requirements are met.
  • Genetic information may be acquired as part of the certification process for FMLA leave (or leave under similar state or local laws), where an employee is asking for leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
  • Publically available: Acquisition through commercially and publicly available documents like newspapers is permitted, as long as the employer is not searching those sources with the intent of finding genetic information.
  • Where required by law: Acquisition through a genetic monitoring program that monitors the biological effects of toxic substances in the workplace is permitted where the monitoring is required by law or, under carefully defined conditions, where the program is voluntary.
  • Forensics Baseline in Law Enforcement Laboratories: Acquisition of genetic information of employees by employers who engage in DNA testing for law enforcement purposes as a forensic lab or for purposes of human remains identification is permitted, but the genetic information may only be used for analysis of DNA markers for quality control to detect sample contamination.

Get this and other info on Genetic Discrimination  here.
Free Posters
Don’t get extorted into purchasing expensive new posters by those sermonizing emails from high priced poster companies. You can download the latest  GINA compliant posters  directly from the EEOC  in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.

Put this subject on your watch list…
This act charges the EEOC with  issuing finalized regulations by November 21, 2009.

Bush signed it. Ted Kennedy acclaimed it.
Bush signed it. Ted Kennedy acclaimed it.

These regulations have not yet been finalized, despite the claims of purveyors of employment law posters who insist that you need  a new poster…
Title I of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits discrimination based on genetic information in health coverage and employment. Title II prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information. Title III  contains  numerous miscellaneous provisions including updates to child labor laws as well as establishing penalties.
The law requires full compliance by employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor unions, joint labor-management training programs, and all federal employers. GINA also updates language from ‘Handicap’ and ‘Handicaps’ to ‘Disability’ and ‘Disabilities’ in the existing EEOC code. This law extends HIPAA protections to genetic information.   Ted Kennedy called it “”the first civil rights bill of the new century of the life sciences.”
The implementing regulations from EEOC are not out yet, but here are some ‘tools you can use’ to prepare for the upcoming rules in November:
Fact sheet.
Final version.
As a .pdf.
Final note: If your health or wellness plan pays or incentivizes employees to submit a family history, that is likely to change!