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What is GINA? Here’s What Employer's Needs to Know

With the majority of the country opened and vaccinated, employers and employees are adjusting to new policies. Due to the availability of the vaccine, questions have been asked if employers can mandate employees to receive the vaccine. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a great resource to stay up to date with the ever changing rules. Most people are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other anti-discrimination laws, but we wanted to highlight one that many people look over.

What is GINA?

• Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was signed into law on May 21, 2008.

• It protects individuals against discrimination based on their genetic information.

• GINA ensures all employees gain equal access to group health benefits being offered and no hiring, firing, or job placement will be made based on genetic markers for familial health patterns.

What Does It Mean for My Business?

• GINA prevents asking about family members’ health. Asking an employee if their family member has any ailment, whether it be Covid-19 related or not could implement GINA.

• The EEOC states it is illegal to discriminate on race, national origin, color, sex, religion, age (40 or over), disability, and genetic information.

• Supervisors and managers should watch for, stop, and report any conversations that may be considered harassment.

What Does It Have to do With Vaccines?

• Some employers are requiring workers that come on site to be vaccinated. It is important to note that doing so may activate GINA laws. GINA prohibits using genetic information against an employee, and while most employers are not being malicious, simply asking certain health questions may acquire genetic information.

• For most places, a pre-screen is conducted before receiving a vaccine. Any questions about family medical history or genetic markers violates GINA. If you send your employees to a company clinic, make sure pre-screen questions are compliant. Any third-party location would not implement GINA laws.

• You can incentivize employees to get vaccinated as long as they fall under EEOC rules, but you cannot incentivize employee’s family members to get vaccinated because it would require the pre-screening to take place.

Please contact us for any further questions about GINA or how to stay compliant with EEOC laws.


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