New Federal Law Prohibits Genetic Information Discrimination
On May 21, President Bush signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), prohibiting discrimination against individuals on the basis of genetic information in employment and health insurance.
GINA prohibits employers from discharging, classifying, segregating, failing to hire, or otherwise discriminating against an employee because of genetic information. GINA also prohibits employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information of an employee or an employee’s family member except in limited circumstances.
GINA further requires employers possessing genetic information about employees to keep the information confidential and maintain it in separate files, and prohibits employers from disclosing such information except in limited circumstances.
The statute contains a number of mandates affecting insurers, employment agencies, labor organizations, and training programs. It also increases monetary penalties to employers that violate federal child labor laws.
The employment provisions take effect 18 months after enactment, while the health insurance provisions take effect one year after enactment.
GINA does not preempt other federal or state laws that provide greater protection from genetic discrimination. At least 34 states and DC have enacted genetic nondiscrimination laws.
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