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Fall 2009

Employment Law Bulletin

Posting Required by November 21, 2009 for the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

GINA Background

A new federal law called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”) takes effect on November 21, 2009 and protects individuals from discrimination based on their genetic information in health coverage and employment. Title II of GINA applies to employers with more than 15 employees and restricts employers’ acquisition of genetic information and prohibits employers from making hiring, firing or other employment-related decisions based on genetic information. GINA defines “genetic information” to include information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, and the manifestation of any disease or disorder in an individual’s family members. In addition, GINA prohibits retaliation against a person because the person has complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

While new to federal law, Massachusetts has prohibited genetic information discrimination for almost ten years. Since 2000, Massachusetts has had in effect a statute prohibiting employers from discrimination against individuals because of genetic information.

Posting Requirement and Proposed Rules

In order to comply with GINA, covered employers must post information informing employees of their rights under GINA in a conspicuous place no later than November 21, 2009. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has revised its posters to include information regarding employees’ rights under GINA, and these posters can be obtained from the EEOC’s website (www.eeoc.gov). The EEOC has published proposed rules regarding GINA, and final rules are expected prior to November 21, 2009. We will provide an update on the final rules when they become available.

If you have any questions regarding the GINA decision or any other employment issues, please contact Mary Jo Kennedy, who is the Coordinator of the Employment Law Practice Group, or  Carol Kamm, a member of the Employment Law Practice Group. Mary Jo is at 413-272-6242 or mkennedy@bulkley.com.  Carol is located in the firm’s Boston office and can be reached at  617-368-2502 or ckamm@bulkley.com.