Thursday, March 19, 2009

EEOC Seeks Comments on Proposed GINA Regulations

Nowadays genetic testing becomes more and more prevalent. The number grew from fewer than 100 thirteen years ago to 1200 today. It has long been a concern that employers would use the genetic information to weed out employees with potential health problems.

Signed into law in May 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits discrimination by health insurers and employers based on people's genetic information. Under GINA, it is illegal for employers to make job decisions such as hiring, firing, pay, training, working conditions, status, raises, promotions, etc. based on genetic information. Just like it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, sex, religion and other factors, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of genetic information.

On Feb 25 2009, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) presented a Notice of Proposed Rule Making implementing employment provisions of GINA and opened a 60-day public comment period until April 25, 2009 at

Susannah Baruch, Law and Policy Director of the Pew Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University, said that "With the passage of GINA and its implementation, we welcome a new era. There are many factors an individual may consider in deciding whether to take a genetic test, but the fear of discrimination must not be one of them."

Francis S. Collins, M.D., PhD, head of the Human Genome Research Institute, said that the law would protect everyone with DNA, and thanks to the new law, no one needs to fear that their DNA “is going to be used against them”.

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