This law is one of the newer EEOC laws, which took effect in November 2009. The EEOC’s definition of
genetic information includes family medical information or information about the manifestation of a
disease or disorder in an individual’s family. For example, an employer cannot discriminate against an
employee whose family has a history of diabetes or cancer. This information could be used to discriminate
against an employee who has an increased risk of getting a disease and may make health care costs more
expensive for the organization.
In addition, the employer is not allowed to seek out genetic information by requesting, requiring, or
purchasing this information. However, there are some situations in which receiving this information
would not be illegal:
1. A manager or supervisor overhears an employee talking about a family member’s illness.
2. Information is received based on wellness programs offered on a voluntary basis.
3. If the information is required as documentation to receive benefits for the Family and Medical
Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA will be discussed in the section about pregnancy.
4. If the information is commercial, such as the appearance of information in a newspaper, as long as
the employer is not specifically searching those sources for the purpose of finding genetic
5. If genetic information is required through a monitoring program that looks at the biological effects
of toxic substances in the workplace.
6. For those professions that require DNA testing, such as law enforcement agencies. In this case, the
genetic information may only be used for analysis in relation to the specific case at hand.
This law also covers how information about genetics should be kept. For example, genetic information
must be kept separate from an employee’s regular file.