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 later in life, or pass on to a child. At present, there are more than 1,000 genetic tests used. 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 to see if there is a significant genetic change or has an additional chromosome
- Biochemical genetic tests: These tests study the number of active proteins which may cause genetic disorders
You may undergo any variety of these genetic tests to protect yourself or your children while being informed of 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 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, informed consent is required for genetic testing before information can be released. 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 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
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. You are also protected from harassment because of these conditions under the law, 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 that is used against you, you deserve justice.
Genetic Information Discrimination Lawyers: Brown Kwon & Lam
If you have faced genetic information discrimination, your employer or health insurance provider has been made aware of it, you do not have to stand for it. Contact the New York lawyers of Brown Kwon & Lam today.