Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) and COVID-19

Where to draw the line between GINA and Gathering COVID-19 Info

The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from collecting genetic information about family members. This includes requesting information about a disease or disorder that is part of an individual family member’s medical records.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a case against Brandon Dermatology, which is medical practice based on Tampa Bay. It was collecting its employees’ family member’s COVID-19 testing results.

Details of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA)case

In general, GINA prohibits employers from requiring, purchasing or requesting information about job applicants or employees and their family members.

Brandon Dermatology reached a settlement with the EEOC through its conciliation process. As a result of the settlement the medical practice agreed to the following:

  • Compensate affected employees through restoration of leave time or back pay
  • Pay compensatory damages
  • Review its COVID-19 policies
  • Conduct training on EEO laws as they relate to COVID-19
  • Post a notice

EEOC Guidance Related to COVID-19

The EEOC released guidance for dealing with COVID-19, so employers can be in compliance with discrimination laws.

There are actions which are legal for employers to take and EEOC outlines these. Examples of legal actions include:

  • Asking employees whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Request than an employee stay at home if they have become ill with COVID-19 symptoms
  • If an employee becomes ill with COVID-19 symptoms at work, the employer can ask that they leave the workplace
  • When returning to work, the employer can ask that the employee followed CDC guidance
  • Asking the employee whether they have been tested for COVID-19
  • Finding out whether the employee has been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 (this can include family members)

Note: The employer cannot ask an employee who is physically coming into the workplace whether they have family members who have COVID-19 or symptoms associated with COVIC-19.

As an employer, do you have questions about GINA or employment issues?

If you have questions or concerns, it is wise to get a legal opinion. You can consult with our attorneys at Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. We are glad to provide you with experienced legal guidance. Call (718) 275-6500 to arrange an appointment.