It’s “What’s Up? Wednesday”. Time to talk about GINA . . .

You asked:  “What is ‘GINA’ and how does it impact employers?”

The answer:

GINA is the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act which went into law in 2008. GINA was founded out of concern over the growing advancements in genetics and the possible misuse of that information to discriminate against individuals in employment.  The regulations clarify when employers may be liable for acquiring “genetic information.”  Genetic information includes: information about an individual or his/her family member’s genetic tests, family medical history, requests for or receipt of genetic services or the genetic information of a fetus or embryo of an individual or the individual’s family member.

GINA includes two sections, Title I and Title II. Title I addresses the use of genetic information in health insurance. Title II is the most relevant to most employers. It prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing an individual’s or individual’s family member’s genetic information.  However, one key exception pertaining to requests for medical information states, “Employers that inadvertently acquire genetic information pursuant to lawful requests for medical information will not violate Title II if they direct the health care provider not to provide genetic information.”  This is especially important to keep in mind when dealing with Workers’ Compensation cases. Practically speaking, all workers compensation forms requesting medical information as well as any American’s with Disabilities Act paperwork must specifically state the following:

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Notice

                 The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers and other    entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual    or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law.  To comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information when responding to this request for medical information.  “Genetic Information,” as defined by GINA, includes an         individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.

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