Has an employer ever asked you to undergo and submit the results of a genetic test as a condition of employment? Or has an employer ever asked you about your genetic characteristics or information, or taken adverse employment action against you after making comments about your genetic characteristics? If so, you were likely the victim of Genetic Discrimination. Discrimination based on genetic characteristics is illegal under both federal and New York State law. Put simply, Genetic Discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against an employee or applicant based on that person's genetic characteristics or information. The Genetic Discrimination lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are well versed in federal, state, and local laws that provide protections against employment discrimination based on genetic characteristics.
In order to understand what constitutes Genetic Discrimination it is important to know what is meant by genetic characteristics. Genetic characteristics, as defined by the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) are any inherited gene or chromosome that is determined by a genetic test or inferred from information obtained from an individual or family member that is scientifically or medically believed to predispose an individual to a disease or disability, or to be associated with an increased risk of development of a physical or mental disease or disability. Similarly, Genetic Information, as defined by the federal law known as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), includes information about an individual's genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual's family members, as well as information about the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual's family members (in other words, one's family medical history).
Genetic discrimination occurs when an employer discovers information about your genetic characteristics or genetic information and then treats you in an unfair or discriminatory manner based on that information. Laws such as GINA and the NYSHRL provide protections to employees whose genetic characteristics or information may be used against them in a discriminatory manner by an employer.
Under Title II of GINA, which was enacted in 2009, employers are prohibited from using genetic information in making employment decisions. Moreover, employers are restricted from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information, and they are limited in the disclosure of genetic information of employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency tasked with enforcing the laws outlined in Title II of GINA. If you believe you have been the victim of genetic discrimination, you may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. It is important to note that employers are further prohibited from retaliating against an employee for exercising his or her rights under GINA by filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, or otherwise opposing genetic discrimination.
New York State also provides protections against Genetic Discrimination under the NYSHRL. The law specifically protects genetic discrimination on the basis of genetic characteristics, as defined above. Moreover, the NYSHRL makes it illegal for an employer to solicit information about your genetic characteristics or require you take a genetic test as a condition of employment. There are a few exceptions to this general rule. First, an employer may require a specified genetic test where it is directly related to the work environment. In addition, there are instances where an employee may request that an employer administer a genetic test as a requirement for a worker's compensation claim or other civil litigation. However, it is important to note that laws providing protections against discrimination and retaliation still apply in these scenarios.
The Long Island employment lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC are experienced in handling all types of Genetic Discrimination cases, whether covered under GINA, the NYSHRL, or both. If your employer has requested you provide genetic test results as a condition of your employment, or has treated you unfairly after learning information about your genetic characteristics, you may be the victim of genetic discrimination. Please do not hesitate to contact the Genetic Discrimination lawyers at Famighetti & Weinick PLLC today for a confidential and thorough consultation regarding your case.