Employer Pays $370,000 for GINA Violations Relating to Family Medical History Questions and ADA Infractions

January 23, 2014 at 10:06 am | Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Compliance, Employment Law, Federal Laws, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), Regulations, Wrongful Termination | Leave a comment
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Founders Pavilion, a nursing rehabilitation center in Corning, New York, was sued for violations of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by the EEOC last May. Founders had a practice of requesting family medical history as part of its post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants. GINA, passed by Congress in 2008 and enforced by the EEOC, prevents employers from requesting genetic information or making employment decisions based on genetic information.

The parties settled earlier this month, with Founders paying $370,000. This included a $110,400 payment to a fund for distribution to 138 individuals who were asked for their genetic information, and a payment of $259,600 to 5 individuals who the EEOC alleged were fired or denied hire in violation of the ADA.

A copy of the EEOC press release concerning the matter is here: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-13-14.cfm

Second GINA Lawsuit Filed by EEOC Triggered by Employment Applications Seeking Family Health History

July 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) | Leave a comment
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The EEOC filed its second GINA lawsuit in the past 3 months. In the most recent lawsuit, the EEOC sued The Founders Pavilion, Inc., a Corning, N.Y. nursing and rehabilitation center. According to the EEOC’s suit, Founders conducted post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants, which were repeated annually if the person was hired. As part of this exam, Founders requested family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information.

The uptick in EEOC GINA litigation is consistent with the EEOC’s recently released Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), which describes the EEOC’s six (6) national priorities for 2013-2016. These priorities include addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including genetic discrimination. In light of the EEOC’s identification of genetic discrimination as a current priority and the recent GINA lawsuits brought by the EEOC, employers would be wise to review their policies regarding employee medical inquiries to ensure that they are compliant with GINA.

A copy of the EEOC’s Press Release relating to the Founders Pavilion lawsuit is here: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5-16-13a.cfm

EEOC Settles First In Nation GINA Lawsuit: Employer Pays $50,000!

May 17, 2013 at 9:16 am | Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) | Leave a comment
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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced last week that it had settled its first lawsuit alleging violations of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA, which was passed by Congress in 2008, makes it illegal for employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of genetic information. More specifically, GINA makes it unlawful for employers to inquire about (1) an individual’s genetic tests; (2) the genetic tests of an individual’s family members; and (3) the manifestation of a disease or disorder in any family member. 

In the lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that an Oklahoma-based employer Fabricut, Inc. violated GINA by extensively questioning a job applicant about her family medical history – including the existence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and mental illness – as part of a mandatory post-offer medical exam. The EEOC also charged Fabricut with violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to hire the applicant based on its assessment that she had carpal tunnel syndrome. Under the settlement terms, Fabricut agreed to pay $50,000 and to take actions to prevent future discrimination. See Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Fabricut Inc., Case No. 13-Civ. 248 (CVE)(PJC) (N.D. Okla. May 7, 2013). 

At the end of 2012, the EEOC declared that genetic discrimination would be one of its top priorities over the next four years. Employers should confirm that none of their policies run afoul of GINA, and should make sure that they are not requesting family medical history or other genetic information from employees – whether directly or through a required medical exam. Employers should also update their employee handbooks to reflect that they do not discriminate on the basis of genetic information.

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