What is Happening in the Workplace Today with GINA?
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a dermatology practice in Tampa, Florida violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA is a law that prohibits employers from unlawfully probing into the genetic information of their employees, this includes asking about family health history. GINA bars employers from discriminating on the basis of any genetic information in all forms of employment such as: hiring, firing, payment, promotions, or layoffs. The EEOC issued guidance holding that COVID-19 test results qualify as genetic information, which means that questions regarding these test results are unlawful under GINA.
Because the EEOC determined that Brandon Dermatology violated GINA, the company must compensate the affected employees. The dermatology practice unlawfully collected information regarding COVID-19 test results for employees’ family members.
Has This Happened to You?
If your employer asked you to provide COVID-19 test results for yourself or family members, then your employer may be in violation of GINA. When an employer violates GINA, you may be entitled to compensation, such as lost wages, benefits or other compensatory damages, including emotional distress damages, for your employer’s breach or attempted breach. For example, in the Brandon Dermatology case, the company restored leave time that employees were forced to use while waiting for COVID-19 test results and/or reimburse employees for lost pay, in addition to $1,000.00 in damages.
What You Can Do to Safeguard Your Medical Information:
- Be vigilant for any questions from your employer that request or require you to produce COVID-19 test results from yourself or any of your family members.
- Review your past interactions with your employer regarding COVID-19 to ensure that you have not fallen victim to a breach in the confidentiality of your genetic information.
- If you believe your employer violated GINA, in order to pursue a lawsuit against the employer, you must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the discrimination—i.e. the improper inquiry into your family member’s health information.
- You should also consult with experienced employment attorneys, like those at Sass Law Firm.