CHA News Article

EEOC: Employers Should not Request Employees’ Family Medical History

Last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed its first suit enforcing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and settled the suit on the same day, with a $50,000 fine to employer Fabricut, Inc. The suit was the first ever alleging genetic discrimination and serves as a reminder to employers about how to handle pre-hiring medical examinations.

“Employers need to be aware that GINA prohibits requesting family medical history,” said David Lopez, general counsel of the EEOC. “When illegal questions are required as part of the hiring process, the EEOC will be vigilant to ensure that no one be denied a job on a prohibited basis.”

According to the lawsuit, Fabricut required a pre-employment drug test and physical exam, which included a questionnaire about family medical history. The GINA law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information – including family medical history – but also restricts employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing the information. GINA was signed into law in 2008.