It’s taken 12 months, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released its final regulations for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The regulations will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, and they will go into full effect 60 days thereafter.

GINA prohibits the asking or procurement of genetic information about an applicant or employee or their family members.

One of the big sticking points during the discussion and drafting of the final regulations concerned the use of online searches, and it appears that the final regs firmly prohibit such searches when they may result in the disclosure of individual or family genetic disposition or history. Here’s the applicable wording:

A covered entity may not request, require, or purchase genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically provided in paragraph (b) of this section. “Request” includes conducting an Internet search on an individual in a way that is likely to result in a covered entity obtaining genetic information. [emphasis added]

The regulations also specify some tests that are permissible and not considered genetic testing: Tests for communicable diseases borne by food handling, whole blood counts, cholesterol counts, and liver function tests are all permitted. Testing for the presence of alcohol is allowed, but testing for a genetic predisposition to alcoholism is not.

Remember, though, that several states have similar laws on the books that may be stricter than the federal statute. The stricter standard is always the one to follow.

Employers, one of the quickest ways to get in compliance with GINA is by obtaining and following Personnel Concepts’ Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Compliance Kit today.