Your Employer Doesn't Need to Know Your Genetic Information

Find A California Labor Lawyer for Genetic Information Discrimination Claims


Workplace discrimination and harassment based on genetic information or family medical history are prohibited in California. However, if you were forced to reveal otherwise unrelated genetic information, or if you were discriminated against or harassed for it, you have the right to claim discrimination under California Labor Law. Consult a Labor Lawyer in California to help you through the process.




How is "Genetic Information" Defined?


Genetic information includes information on an individual's genetic testing as well as the genetic tests of their family members, as well as information on the manifestation of an illness or condition in an individual's family relatives (i.e., family medical history).


A family medical history is required for the definition of genetic knowledge. It can also be used to determine if someone has a higher risk of contracting a disease, ailment, or condition.


Is Genetic Information Confidential?


Under California Employment Law, it is illegal for a protected individual to report genetic information about applicants, employees, or representatives. Individuals who are covered must have their genetic records kept secret and in a separate medical file.

  • Genetic information must be preserved in the same file as other medical information under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

However, there are a few exceptions to non-disclosure, such as disclosing linked genetic information to government agents conducting investigations under GINA Title II and disclosures made under a court order.

  • Discrimination against workers or candidates based on genetic knowledge is prohibited under Title II of the GINA. It prohibits the use of genetic information in employment decisions, restricts the request, request, or purchase of genetic information by employers.

Title II of GINA is applied by the EEOC (dealing with genetic discrimination in the workplace). The Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury are responsible for issuing regulations for GINA Title I, which deals with the use of genetic information in health insurance.

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Laws on Acquiring Genetic Information

Usually, it is illegal for a protected person to obtain genetic information. However, under California Labor Law, there are exceptions to this rule:

  • Inadvertent genetic data acquisitions, such as when a boss or supervisor overhears someone discussing a family member's ailment, do not violate GINA.

  • If the basic criteria are met, genetic information or family medical history information can be accessed voluntarily as part of the employer's health or genetic services, including wellness initiatives.

  • Family medical history can be gathered as part of the qualification process for FMLA leave (or leave under analogous state or local legislation or an employment policy) when an employee requests a job-protected leave to take care of a family member with a severe health condition.

  • Commercially and publicly accessible records, such as journals, can be used to collect genetic information. The employer should not get out of their way to find such sources of genetic information or access sources from which data is likely to be obtained.

  • A genetic monitoring program that monitors the effects of specific chemicals in the workplace, whether monitoring is enforced by law, or when the program is voluntary under precisely regulated conditions, can be used to acquire genetic information.

  • It is legal for employers to allow law enforcement genetic testing at a forensic laboratory or identify human remains.

  • However, genetic data may only be utilized to investigate quality control DNA markers to detect sample contamination. No other reason is permitted for it.

Discrimination in the workplace based on genetic information


The law forbids discrimination based on genetic information in any area of employment, including hiring, firing, salary, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.


An employer can never utilize genetic analysis to make an employment choice because genetic information has no bearing on a person's existing ability to work.


Harassment at Work Because of Genetic Information


Bullying someone based on their genetic information is likewise prohibited under GINA. Making disparaging or derogatory statements concerning the applicant's or employee's genetic information, or the genetic information of the applicant's or employee's relative, is an example of harassment.


Although jokes, casual comments, or isolated occurrences of non-serious harassment are not unlawful, workplace harassment becomes unlawful when it is so severe that it creates a toxic work environment.


The harasser could be the victim, another supervisor in the office, a coworker, or someone who isn't an employee, such as a client or client.


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What Kinds of Evidence Do I Need to Prove Genetic Information Discrimination?

  • Photo and video proof. If you have reason to believe you are being discriminated against or retaliated against, be aware of the signs. Do be careful when you are openly recording or taking pictures of someone, though, as it might cause or exacerbate tensions or arguments.

  • Messages. Your work emails, chat rooms, and SMS messages could all be evidence of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Keep any emails or conversations where it suggests you were mistreated or fired for illegal reasons.

  • Documentation. These include pay stubs, timesheets, and written notices. These documents could be used as evidence that your employer is retaliating against you. If you've recently filed a Labor Law Claim with an agency, these are extremely important to monitor.

While there is a lot of evidence you may acquire on your own, you may still run into problems if your workplace is already hostile or if you've been wrongfully terminated as a result of the discrimination.

Hiring a California Employment Law Attorney can assist you in making more complete inquiries into your issue.


What if I am Punished for Filing a Claim?


According to GINA, it is unlawful to fire, demote, intimidate, or otherwise retaliate against an applicant or employee for submitting a discrimination complaint, participating in a discrimination claim process (such as a discrimination case or a lawsuit), or otherwise resisting discrimination.


Find An Genetic Information Discrimination Attorney in California


Gency.org can help you find a Contingency Lawyer for your Employment Cases in California. No win, no fees! You can complete our submission form for a free case review.

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