Every employee has a right to a safe work environment. As such, that means a work setting that prohibits comments or actions against a worker based on certain characteristics. These characteristics may include, for example, age, gender, sexual attraction, race, nationality and disabilities.
Many people overlook how their genetic history may lead to discrimination. However, under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), employees are protected from discrimination based on their genetics.
What’s the purpose of knowing your genetic information? How does your genetic information affect your employment? What does the GINA act do? Here’s what you should know:
What is genetic information?
Genetic information is traits passed down from parents and grandparents. Many people have some idea of what their genetic history could entail based on their parents’ and grandparents’ medical history. For example, you may know that your grandparents and parents were treated for cancer, as such, it’s likely that you could develop cancer.
A person may have their and their family members’ genetic information tested to see if there are any possibilities for disease or medical disorders. Knowing your medical history is important because it allows you to treat illnesses before they arise or determine the cause of a medical condition.
Does genetic information affect your employment?
Employers may decide not to hire someone because they found out that they have a possibility of developing a medical condition. In their mind, this could mean the employee would have to use their medical benefits and take time off, which could end up hurting their business. This could also lead to issues if an employer found a current employee may need to use their medical benefits, leading to uncalled termination.
How does GINA protect employees?
Employers aren’t allowed to use a person’s genetic information to make job-related decisions against a current or prospecting employee, such as firing, hiring or limiting promotions. That means employees are able to make medical decisions without fear of losing their job or health insurance.
Likewise, an employee can’t have their medical information used against them by insurers who wish to determine their eligibility costs, medical benefits and health insurance policy.
Yet, despite these laws, many people are discriminated against. If you believe your genetic information led to discrimination, then you should understand your legal rights.