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What is genetic information discrimination in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | workplace discrimination |

Workplace discrimination comes in many forms. We are mostly familiar with discrimination based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. However, there is also a type of employment discrimination rooted in a person’s genes called genetic information discrimination.

Understanding the concept of “genetic information”

Before qualifying whether an employer’s behavior is discriminatory, we have to first understand what genetic information is. Technically, genetic information refers to details about an applicant or employee’s genetic records that may show a disease or disorder, or a manifestation thereof, within their family.

Genetic information also includes the following data on an individual and their family members:

  • Documents and receipts of requests for genetic services
  • Records of clinical research participation
  • Information on the genetics of a fetus during pregnancy or an embryo

So, how does this information relate to workplace discrimination?

When it becomes a basis for employment decisions

The law restricts employers from requesting and requiring applicants and employees to submit medical records, including genetic information. If, under an exception, an employer gains knowledge of an applicant or employee’s genetic details, they cannot use it as a basis for hiring, firing, promoting or making other employment decisions. Otherwise, they would be discriminating against that individual.

Protecting your employment rights

The first step in eliminating discrimination in the workplace is knowing when actions are discriminatory. Once you can determine them, you can start exploring remedies to hold your discriminator accountable and protect your rights.

If you believe your employer, manager or coworker treats you differently because of your genetic information, you can assess your situation with a competent legal team and find a suitable course of action.