Articles Posted in Genetic Information

DNA modelDo you follow me on Twitter? If you do, you may have watched me live-streaming some of my one-year-old, who won Halloween hands-down. Well, that and you would have gotten the early heads up that the EEOC was issuing its proposed rules on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and its impact on your employer wellness programs.

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Did I ever tell you about the one in college we called “The Mad Pooper”? (Actually, we didn’t use the word “Pooper.” We used another word that better expressed our distaste for this individual).

It was during my freshman year of college. More often than not after a night of revelry and intoxication, which generally fell on a day that ended in “Y,”  a phantom defacator would infiltrate our co-ed bathrooms and leave a calling card — or, more accurately, a bowel movement — right in the middle of the floor.  Continue reading

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is obsessed with wellness programs.

Or, as the EEOC likes to describe them “‘so-called’ wellness programs.” And not in a “yay, so-called wellness programs are super” kinda way.

No, in recent months, the EEOC has initiated litigation against companies (example, example, example) claiming that they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act by both requiring medical examination and penalizing employees who decline to participate.

Back in May 2013, one of the panel experts invited to speak at an EEOC public meeting on wellness programs lamented that, while the ADA allows employers to ask for medical information in connection with voluntary wellness programs, the meaning of “voluntary” merits further clarification.

EEOC Commissioner Lipnic too stressed that the EEOC has a “responsibility where possible to let stakeholders know the Commission’s position on these important questions.”

And Senate Republicans, well, they don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with the EEOC on this issue.

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Have you cast your vote for The Employer Handbook as the top Labor and Employment blog in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100? If not, please take a few secs and do it here.

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And so the EEOC has announced (here), that in February 2015, it will provide wellness-program guidance to employers “to address numerous inquiries EEOC has received about whether an employer that complies with regulations implementing the final Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules concerning wellness program incentives, as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will be in compliance with the ADA.”

The EEOC believes that its new guidance “will benefit entities covered by title I of the ADA by generally promoting consistency between the ADA and HIPAA, as amended by the ACA, and result in greater predictability and ease of administration,” while imposing “no new or additional risks to employers.”

As former EEOC Chair Berrien recognized at the EEOC’s public meeting in May, there has been “broad, bipartisan support for the expanded use of wellness programs to reduce health insurance and healthcare costs.” So, hopefully, the EEOC can strike a reasonable balance between the intent of these programs and federal anti-discrimination laws.


Your fitness-for-duty employee medical examinations are job-related or consistent with business necessity. So, they pass muster under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, what about the medical information you request from employees in connection with those exams? 

Oh yeah, there’s that too…

Ask for too much info and you might you be violating not only the ADA, but also the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.

Rut roh! More after the jump…

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Consistent with its strategic plan to provide up-to-date guidance on the requirements of antidiscrimination laws, last week, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued this press release in which it announced that it had revised guidance on how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. You can find links to that revised guidance here.

And earlier in the month, the EEOC held a public meeting on employer wellness programs and how they may be impacted by not only the ADA, but also the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA). You can view a copy of the press release here. Suffice it to say that, until the EEOC offers further guidance on these issues — and even when it does — consult with an employment lawyer before implementing or updating one of these programs.

FacebookMaryland has a new law forbidding employers from demanding that job applicants and employees divulge online passwords. Two weeks ago, the federal government proposed similar legislation. And, last week, news surfaced that Delaware may be placing the same restrictions on employers.

But who needs to demand online passwords, when, according to this report from Consumer Reports, your employees are sharing way more information on Facebook than they realize.

Some of the highlights from the report and a few related tips for employers follow after the jump…

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Over the weekend, I read this story by Laura Hibbard at the Huffington Post about a phony job flyer handed out by two men in red blazers posing as Chick-Fil-A employees [link to video] on the campus of New York University. The phony flyer states:

Remember Chick-Fil-A is a Christian company. We strive to have our values reflected in our employees. Please be prepared to discuss your religion, family history, personal relationships etc. upon interviewing. Chick-Fil-A reserves the right to question, in detail, your sexual relationship history. The Bible and Chick-Fil-A, define a traditional relationship as consisting of a man and woman. Anyone living a life of sin need not apply. The Chick-Fil-A Foundation. God, Family, Tradition.

The flyer and video have since gone viral. However, Chick-Fil-A, which has a stated corporate purpose to “glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us,” responded by posting on the wall of its Facebook Fan page (incidentally, 4,960,921 people “like” Chick-fil-A) that the flyer and video were BS. Given the company’s religious leanings, the comments beneath Chick-Fil-A’s status update are rather polarizing.

But since this an employment-law blog, there is an employment-law point to be made. Just because you technically can ask certain questions during a job interview, doesn’t mean you should. Indeed, you may want to consider steering clear of these other 29.

But feel free to watch the vids below…

Nothing really. But I needed to combine three topics into one quick blog post.

On Genetics
I will be presenting a webinar tomorrow (2/16) at 1:30 PM EST on how the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act will affect your company. If you had to click on the hyperlink, then you probably should sign up for the webinar. You can learn more about the webinar here.

On Social Media
PA and NJ attorneys should clear their calendars on the afternoon of February 23, 2011, and get to Mount Holly for a presentation that I am giving with Dilworth Paxson’s James Landgraf and Duane Morris’s James Ferelli on Social Media Litigation: Claims, Defenses, Use & Ethical Misuse. You can learn more about this program here.

On the NFL
Yesterday, the National Football League filed an unfair labor practice charge against the NFL Players Association. Seth Borden at Labor Relations Today has some good insight into the effect this filing may have on a potential NFL lockout.


Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits genetic information discrimination in employment, took effect on November 21, 2009. Nearly a year later, the EEOC published the final GINA regulations.

How does this law affect employers? I’ll break it down for you after the jump.

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