UPDATED 3/1/09

The EEOC released proposed regulations regarding the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act on February 25, 2009.  The Washington Labor & Employment Wire (H/T) received and advance copy; the regulations are expected to be published later on Thursday or Friday and the 60-day comment period will begin then. (UPDATED: The text of the proposed regulations can be found here.)

With all the new employment laws, GINA might have been overlooked; it was passed last year and it:

* prohibits discrimination based on genetic information in hiring, firing, compensation and other employment decisions;
* prohibits employers from collecting genetic information through workplace genetic testing or other means, with very narrow exceptions (e.g., monitoring the effects of hazardous workplace exposures);
* prohibits health insurers and plans from requiring genetic testing and from discriminating based on genetic information in enrollment and premium-setting; and
* imposes strict workplace confidentiality/disclosure rules on all genetic information.

The Wire’s early take on the regulations is that they clarify some terms and provide some guidance on GINA’s six exceptions to the general provisions that employers are prohibited from acquiring genetic information from employees:

The proposed regulations provide additional guidance regarding some of the terms used in the Act. For example, the regulations define “employee” to cover not just current employees, but also applicants and former employees. The proposed rule also clarifies that drug and alcohol tests are not “genetic tests,” and invites comments on the scope of the term “genetic test,” specifically, “how the term should be applied, whether the proposed regulation should be more or less expansive, and whether it or the preamble should provide examples of what should be included or excluded.”

Employers in Connecticut should be wary about just following GINA however. Connecticut has long had a separate state law on the subject in Conn. Gen. Stat. 46a-60(a)(11).

In any event, the proposed regulations should be available from the government website shortly. Expect to hear more in the upcoming days about these proposed regulations.