Podcast: Genetic Discrimination and Other US Employment Trends

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is one of the newer US employment laws, and has already led to lawsuits against employers, including one that sparked a $50,000 settlement. To become aware of the risks and learn how to avoid them, our recent podcast is a must listen. 

The program features my conversation with North Carolina employment attorney and noted blogger Robin Shea about genetic bias in the workplace. Shea says recent interest from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) into this area, including its first class action lawsuit under GINA, is a sign of things to come rather than an aberration.

GINA prohibits employers from asking job applicants or employees about their family medical history in connection with an employment-related exam. Shea suggests that this law is broader than many employers realize. For instance, she notes that supervisors must be careful even in casual conversations at work when the talk turns toward medical areas.

But if you’re wondering how to avert potential liability, the veteran practitioner points out that GINA does contain a useful “safe harbor” provision.

We finish off the podcast by shifting the conversation towards other notable recent employment law developments. The highlight is a new appellate court ruling that firing a woman for expressing breast milk is unlawful sex discrimination under federal law because lactation is related to pregnancy.

 

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