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EEOC files lawsuit to stop genetic discrimination in workplace

As many of our readers know, there are certain things that your employer can ask you but there are also things that they cannot ask you. And with the recent changes to equal employment laws, some employers are getting into trouble with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for asking discriminatory questions. This is especially true about an employee's family medical history, which has forced the EEOC to file a lawsuit in return.

For those Indiana residents who may not have heard about the case, the EEOC received word recently that a company in New York, Founders Pavilion, Inc., was conducting post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of job applicants in an effort to pre-screen employees before offering them jobs. Also as part of this process, applicants were asked to provide information about their family medical history. According to the EEOC, the request of such genetic information qualifies as workplace discrimination and even violates the Americans with Disabilities Act as well.

In 2008, Congress passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act which prevents employers from requesting any genetic information, including family medical history, and using that information during the hiring process.  According to the EEOC, Founders violated this act by not only discriminating against prospective employees but also current employees as well.  In their lawsuit, they cited several instances where employees were terminated because of perceived disabilities and even pregnancy.

A case such as this, while it may be occurring in a different state, highlights how important it is for all employers, including those here in Indiana, to follow federal laws that protect workers from discriminatory behavior.  Because in the end, if an employer is found to have violated these federal laws, they can be held responsible for their actions in a court of law.

Source: Job Mouse, "EEOC Files Class Genetic Information Discrimination Suit Against Corning Rehab Center," Lynn Herman, May 30, 2013

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