Dallas, Texas (WiredPRNews.com) — President George Bush recently signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). The GINA prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of genetic information. Group health plans and health insurers may not deny coverage to a person or charge a person higher premiums based solely on the person’s genetic factors. Employers may not use employees’ genetic information when making employment decisions and, with few exceptions, may not request genetic information from employees. Victims of genetic information discrimination must prove intentional discrimination and may seek remedies similar to those provided under Title VII, including both compensatory and punitive damages.
Proponents of the GINA argue that the law is necessary to both ensure that biomedical research continues and to protect individuals’ privacy rights. Opponents argue that the law is overly broad and may result in frivolous litigation. Opponents also argue that the law is premature since it does not appear that employers currently discriminate against employees on the basis of genetic information.
The GINA will take effect eighteen months after being signed into law. Keith Clouse, Dallas employment lawyer, advises employers to update employee handbooks, job application forms, training programs, and other materials to reflect compliance with the GINA prior to its effective date. For assistance in preparing for the GINA’s effective date, please contact an employment lawyer at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected]