UPDATED 3/1/09

Earlier this week, I indicated that the EEOC would be releasing new proposed regulations interpreting the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).  [Those new proposed regulations can be found here. (H/T LawMemo)) In the meantime, the EEOC released on its website a very useful document providing "background information" on Title II of GINA which applies to employers. (The EEOC also released the testimony from various witnesses at a hearing on the subject as well.)

It is, in essence, a FAQ for employers on the new Act and the proposed regulations.  It provides answers to questions such as:

  • Who must comply with Title II of GINA? (Private and state and local government employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor unions, and joint labor-management training programs.)
  • Are entities subject to Title II of GINA required to comply with the law now? (No. Title II of GINA is effective on November 21, 2009.)
  • What is “genetic information?” (Genetic information includes, for example, information about an individual’s genetic tests, genetic tests of a family member, and family medical history. Genetic information does not include information about the sex or age of an individual or the individual’s family members, or information that an individual currently has a disease or disorder. Genetic information also does not include tests for alcohol or drug use.)
  • What practices are prohibited by GINA Title II? (Among other things, the use of genetic information in making decisions related to any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment)
  • Are there any exceptions to the prohibition on use of genetic information? (No. According to the EEOC, "This prohibition is absolute. Covered entities may not use genetic information in making employment decisions under any circumstances.")

For additional background, I would also recommend the GINA website from the Genetics and Public Policy Center of Johns Hopkins University. In fact, one of its members testified before the EEOC earlier this week.  It has summaries available and adds some fresh perspective to this issue.