Author: Jason Habinsky, Haynes & Boone
When to Use
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was developed to protect individuals who use genetic information and services by preventing the misuse of such genetic information by employers and health insurers. +42 U.S.C. §§ 2000ff, et seq.
Private employers with fifteen or more employees must comply with GINA. GINA does not require that employers provide a written policy statement to employees but it is advisable to do so. Developing a GINA policy will also help employers become familiar with what is, and is not, acceptable under the law. Many frequently occurring workplace issues such as requests for medical documentation from an employee, discussions about the health of an employee's family member, or employment medical exams may result in GINA violations. Therefore, it is important for employers to understand GINA or the employer may inadvertently violate the law.
Distributing a copy of the policy to all employees provides employees with notice of what will, and will not be, protected under the policy. Employers who need to monitor potential safety hazards in the workplace likely will deal with GINA more often than other types of employers, and a written policy is even more important in those situations.