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Title II of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) covering employment goes into effect on November 21, 2009.  GINA, which was enacted in May 2008, prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information and from intentionally acquiring genetic information from employees or applicants.  The Act also imposes strict confidentiality requirements on employers, and requires them to segregate and maintain all such information in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic makeup or propensities (such as predisposition for medical problems) and those of an individual’s family members, and any information about diseases, disorders, or conditions that the individual’s family member has experienced.

Enforcement and remedies under GINA will be similar to those available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.  Thus, employers will face the possibility of increased litigation over claims of genetic discrimination.  Like other federal equal employment opportunity laws, GINA also prohibits employers from retaliating against a person for opposing or complaining about discrimination, filing a charge of discrimination, or participating in an employment discrimination inquiry, investigation or lawsuit.

Last month, the EEOC revised its “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” poster, which is a mandatory posting for covered employers, to include information about GINA.