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Genetic Information Discrimination

New York City Genetic Information Discrimination Lawyers

When we think about discrimination in the workplace, we often think of race, gender, sex, nationality, religion, etc. However, one form of discrimination that often goes unnoticed is genetic information discrimination. Not sure if you’ve been a victim of it? Learn more below.

What is Genetic Information Discrimination

Genetic information discrimination occurs when a health insurance company or employer misuses your genetic information to treat you differently. Though not as common as other forms of discrimination, it can occur once you receive genetic testing.

Genetic testing is a voluntary medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. These tests can confirm or rule out medical conditions that you may have, develop, or pass on to a child. At present, there are more than 1,000 genetic tests doctors conduct. The most common genetic tests include:

  • Molecular genetic tests: These tests study a single gene or a short length of DNA to identify mutations in the strand.
  • Chromosomal genetic tests: These tests review the entire chromosome or length of DNA. They look for a significant genetic change and additional chromosomes.
  • Biochemical genetic tests: These tests study the number of active proteins which can cause genetic disorders.

You may undergo any variety of these genetic tests to learn of your various medical possibilities. However, employers may use this information against you to manipulate the terms and conditions of your employment. However, there are laws to protect you.

Genetic Information Discrimination Laws

In New York City State, Article 26 of the Insurance Laws (ISC § 2615) and Article 79-l of the Civil Rights Laws (CVR § 79-l) discuss the limitations on consent when it comes to insurance releasing information about genetic testing.

Under the law, medical providers require informed consent for genetic testing before releasing information. This also includes the confidentiality of the results of such tests, which in turn, prohibits the misuse of genetic information by health insurance companies.

In addition to the New York City State Law, there are numerous federal laws and agencies that work to protect you from genetic information discrimination. These include:

  • 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of 1995
  • Executive Order 13145

What Do The Laws Do?

All of these laws and orders work to protect you from your employer or insurance provider using the results of genetic testing to withhold certain benefits from you.

In addition to not receiving the full terms and conditions, including benefits of employment, these laws protect you from discrimination in hiring, firing, pay, assignments, promotions, etc. They also protect you from harassment, as well as retaliation for speaking up against such injustices.

Your health should be your priority. But when you take proactive measures to be the healthiest you that you can be, and employers use that against you, you deserve justice.

Can My Employer Legally Request My Genetic Information For Any Reason?

In general, your employer cannot legally request or require your genetic information. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) strictly prohibits employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information about employees or their family members. This federal law is designed to prevent genetic information discrimination in employment, ensuring that your genetic data does not impact your job opportunities or conditions.

There are very limited exceptions where an employer might be allowed to obtain genetic information, such as:

When the employer inadvertently acquires the information (e.g., overhearing a conversation).

As part of health services offered on a voluntary basis, including wellness programs, with the employee's written consent.

For family medical history needed to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

In cases involving toxic substance monitoring where the employee's exposure is monitored to determine the biological effects of the substance.

However, even in these exceptional scenarios, strict confidentiality requirements apply, and the genetic information must be kept in a separate medical file and treated as a confidential medical record.

Comprehensive Legal Support for Genetic Information Discrimination Cases

Genetic information discrimination is a serious issue that can affect your personal and professional life. Our skilled attorneys at Brown Kwon & Lam are dedicated to defending people's rights in New York City against genetic information-related discrimination in the workplace. We are committed to giving you the strong legal representation and support that you need during this challenging time. We are knowledgeable about the complex rules prohibiting discrimination based on genetic information.

Our team of attorneys specializing in genetic information discrimination is ready to support you with:

  • Initiating a discrimination claim
  • Engaging in negotiations with employers
  • Offering legal advice and direction
  • Pursuing damages compensation
  • Safeguarding your workplace rights

If you suspect you have encountered genetic information discrimination, feel free to contact us for a private consultation. Brown Kwon & Lam is dedicated to advocating for fairness and ensuring the protection of your rights.

Genetic Information Discrimination Lawyers: Brown Kwon & Lam

If you have faced genetic information discrimination and your employer or health insurance provider has been made aware of it, you do not have to stand for it. 

Contact the New York City lawyers of Brown Kwon & Lam today.

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