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Employees protected against genetic discrimination

Laws regarding discrimination have been in place for decades and most employees and employers across Florida should be familiar with them. Generally speaking, people should understand that they are protected from being mistreated on the job because of their age, gender, religion or disability.

However, there is also a law that protects people from being discriminated against on the basis of genetic information. Cases involving this type of discrimination are not as common as cases involving other types of discrimination, but that could be changing as it becomes easier for people to access genetic testing and information. 

Genetic testing is more available than ever these days. People can undergo testing to determine if they are a carrier of a particular genetic mutation or element that makes them more likely to develop a serious condition. People can find out if they are genetically predisposed to certain types of cancer, mental deficiencies or other illnesses though these tests.

However, The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 states that employers are not allowed to use genetic information as a factor when making decisions about a person's employment or insurance.

We don't necessarily see a lot of these cases coming up just yet, but they can happen. In one case, for example, two workers successfully sued their employer for using cheek swab samples in an attempt to identify the people or person defecating in company warehouse. The workers argued that their DNA should not have been tested in an attempt to make an employment decision, as that violates GINA laws.

Considering the fact that genetic testing is a relatively new tool for people, it can be very difficult for employers and employees alike to know what rights exist in relation to that information.

People with questions about this complicated area of employment law can discuss their case with an attorney who can explain the laws and how they may apply.

Source: Reuters, "Georgia workers win $2.2 mln in 'devious defecator' case," Daniel Wiessner, June 23, 2015

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