Be the Boss Over Cancer

 As technology advances and testing for genetic predisposition to diseases increases, so does the frequency of employers using such information against employees. In fact, based on this recent article on, complaints by people claiming they've been fired based on genetic testing and family history have increased by 20% over the last year.

Genes_personThe Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), passed in 2009, seeks to protect individuals from such workplace discrimination.  The Act makes it illegal for an employer to fire or refuse to hire anyone simply based on the results of genetic tests or a family history of disease. Unfortunately, the Time article also warns that claims of genetic-based discrimination are likely to rise. Because biological science continues to advance, more and more genetic information will be available, with more sophisticated identifiers of predisposition to cancer.

The Cancer Legal Resource Center warns about the effects of these discrimination claims. Stemming from employment-related concerns, there is a fear that individuals will decide not to disclose important information to health care professionals and refuse early screening or preventative measures, which "may be crucial for their medical care." 

Since this issue may only continue to grow, it is important to inform yourself of your rights under the law. The CLRC offers a comprehensive overview of genetic discrimination protections here, and if you have any further questions or concerns, they can be contacted at

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1 Comment

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  • Layla M.

    Layla M. on Mar 21, 2012

    wow. thanks eva. cant tell you how helpful this information is to me. I find it hard to locate and understand some of the legal jargon that relates to people with cancer, so thanks for explaining it for the lay person! Thanks Cancer and Careers!

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