On May 21, 2008, President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a law that prohibits discrimination in employment (Title II) and insurance (Title I) decisions against individuals who may be genetically predisposed to certain diseases.
Barring employment discrimination (Title II), GINA prohibits employers from using genetic information or status to classify an employee in a way that affects employment or promotion opportunities. Nor can employers request or require genetic information about an employee (or family member), except in limited circumstances such as complying with certification requirements of the FMLA or state leave laws.
Like the ADA, GINA requires employers to maintain an employee’s genetic information in separate files and treat it as a confidential medical record.
The enforcement provisions and remedies for a violation of Title II of the Act are the same as those available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is no disparate impact cause of action under GINA, but the law establishes a commission that will advise Congress on creating one.
GINA also prohibits (Title I) employer-sponsored group health plans from basing eligibility or premium determinations on genetic information; nor can they request, require or buy genetic information before an individual enrolls in a plan. GINA extends the same medical privacy and confidentiality rules outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Social Security Act to the use or disclosure of genetic information.
The enforcement provisions in Title I expand existing penalties under ERISA. The Act authorizes the Department of Labor to sue for equitable relief and participants or beneficiaries may seek injunctive relief in certain circumstances.