Posted by Tamara
When requesting health information from an employee, employers must not ask about family medical history or any genetic information. Employers must also caution their workers to not reveal this information.
These guidelines are meant to prevent illegal genetic discrimination under GINA the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act which was passed in 2008. In November of 2010, the EEOC issued final regulations for enforcement of GINA.
The new regulations state that all New Mexico employers should provide employees with written notice not to share family history or genetic information.
Provide workers with this notice every time health information is requested, whether verbally or in writing.
Train supervisors not to inquire about the medical conditions of their employees or of their family members, even when expressed out of sincere concern.
EEOC regulations require specific language in written requests for health information.
The specific language is: “GINA prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of employees or their family members. In order to comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information when responding to this request for medical information. ‘Genetic information,’ as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.”
Employers may provide this notice verbally when a verbal request is made. For example, Justin calls in sick. His supervisor is allowed to ask for more information, but must first caution Justin not to reveal genetic or medical history information. The supervisor should say, “Without disclosing any genetic information or information on family medical history, can you tell me why you will be absent?”
Employers that fail to caution employees about their GINA rights will be in violation of GINA.
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