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 Time.com, complaints by people claiming they've been fired based on genetic testing and family history have increased by 20% over the last year.
The 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 CLRC@lls.edu.
Image courtesy wired.com