New Federal Requirements Issued to Prevent Genetic Discrimination
Anyone up for a screening of Gattaca? A new rule just recently put into effect by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that all employers with at least 15 employees must retain records related to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) in a way reminiscent of that required for employment records under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). However, in addition to the rules of the ADA, employers must also retain records to a GINA discrimination charge until that charge is resolved.
GINA was designed to specifically protect employees from discrimination based on genetic information and restricts the employers from requesting, requiring, purchasing, or disclosing any genetic records they may obtain. Records containing GINA-related information and pertaining to hiring, promoting, demoting, transferring, laying off, terminating, accommodating, wages, and applications must be preserved for one year from the date the file was opened, for private businesses; educational institution and public sector employers must retain such records for two years. Genetic information for workers who are involuntarily terminated must be kept for one year from the date of termination.
If a GINA discrimination charge is filed, all relevant personnel records must be retained until the charge has been completely resolved and discharged. A tip to HR and benefits professionals: don’t toss any information until you are sure the issue has been closed. Discrimination charges often experience a lengthy appeals process. Consult your legal counsel for confirmation before destroying any documents.
Approximately 200 GINA discrimination claims are expected by the EEOC to be filed annually.