The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) became law in 2009, but it took a few years for enforcement to catch up, which it did just recently. In the first lawsuit based on GINA, which the company settled for $50,000 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the enforcing agency, the triggering event was the company’s asking for family medical history during a post-job-offer medical examination. Unfortunately, the examination inquired about any cases of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis, arthritis and “mental diseases” in the family past – all protected genetic information.

A big no-no. GINA prohibits digging around for genetic information, in other words, the medical history of the applicant, employee or his or her family. GINA makes exceptions for inadvertent “water cooler” discovery of such information, along with legitimate needs for such information that is job-related or pertains to requests for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, but otherwise, genetic information is not to be procured.

Following that first settlement, it appears that things are heating up on the GINA legal front. A second lawsuit, alleging the exact same conduct (family medical history requests during a post-job-offer medical exam) has been filed against a nursing and rehabilitation home.

Employers and those responsible, make your jobs easier – and more GINA-proof – by obtaining and following the steps in Personnel Concepts’ Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Compliance Kit. Get yours today.