Florida Employer Settles Genetic Information Discrimination Claim
On July 6th, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Brandon Dermatology—a skin care clinic with offices in Hillsborough County, Florida—has agreed to settle a genetic information discrimination claim. The employment lawsuit centered around this employer’s COVID-19 testing of the family members of workers. In this article, you will find an overview of the settlement and genetic information discrimination claim in general.
Settlement: Employer Will No Longer Make Workers Get COVID-19 Test of Family Members
Brandon Dermatology is a medical practice in Hillsborough County. It serves patients throughout the Tampa area. According to information from the EEOC, Brandon Dermatology required employees to take COVID-19 tests. Additionally, it also required employees to get COVID-19 test results for their family members. A legal claim was filed against the company on the grounds that its policy violated the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).
The employer has now settled the lawsuit and agreed to stop the policy. The EEOC and Brandon Dermatology entered into a conciliation settlement agreement. The company will no longer require or take COVID-19 test results from the family members of its staff. The EEOC notes that the previous policy was in violation of GINA. Except in extremely narrow circumstances, employers are not supposed to request or require genetic information from workers or their family members.
An Overview of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
Genetic information is more readily available than ever. Indeed, there are many commercial services available through which people can get information about their own genetics at a relatively low cost. In 2008, the federal government addressed this matter in an employment context by passing a new law that bars discrimination on the basis of genetic information. Here are three important things to understand about the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA):
- Genetic Information is Defined Broadly: For the purposes of GINA, genetic information is anything related to the genetics of an employee or an employee’s biological family members. Most notably, the statute covers genetic information that could provide information about medical history and likely future medical needs.
- Discrimination on the Basis of Genetic Information is Prohibited: GINA bars discrimination on the basis of genetic information. As an example, imagine that an employer acquired genetic information that shows that an applicant is more likely to get a serious disease in the future. An employer covered by GINA cannot use that information to make a personnel decision.
- Coverage for 15 or More Employees: Similar to many other federal employment regulations, GINA applies to companies with 15 or more total employees. Smaller employers are not covered by this federal statute.
Get Help From a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer in Florida
Every employee should be evaluated on their own qualifications and experience—not on unfair stereotypes. If you or your loved one was the victim of discrimination on the basis of genetic information, please do not hesitate to contact a Florida employment attorney for help.