Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Definition - What does Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) mean?

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a federal law in the United States that made it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee, or prospective employee, on the basis of that individual's genetic information. GINA also prohibits discrimination against individuals by health insurance providers. The act prevents a person's DNA from being used as a basis for discrimination.

Individual genetic information protected by the act includes any genetic tests or medical history related to the individual or his or her family. Enforcement of GINA is managed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

WorkplaceTesting explains Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) applies to employers, labor organizations and other covered entities. These entities are prohibited from asking employees to provide genetic information. Employers and other covered entities also cannot purchase or disclose genetic information about an employee or prospective employee.

There are two primary sections of GINA, Title I and Title II. Title I of the act applies to health insurers. The act provides that health insurers cannot decline to provide insurance or determine health insurance premiums based on an individual's genetic information. Tittle II provides that genetic information cannot be used to guide any employment decision. Information also cannot be shared or disclosed by an employer. GINA also protects employees from harassment related to their genetic information.

The definition of genetic information under the act is designed to prevent employers from acquiring any information that might lead them to discriminate against an individual due to the risk of that individual developing a medical condition. For instance, an employer cannot decline to hire a person because that person's family has a history of diabetes or cancer. Other employment decisions such as firing, promotions, and pay are also included in the act's protection. GINA also prohibits employers and other entities from retaliating against an employee for filing a GINA discrimination claim.

Under GINA, health insurers cannot require genetic testing as a precondition of providing insurance. Additionally, health insurers cannot use information acquired about an individual for discriminatory purposes.

The goal of the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act was to alleviate fears of discrimination that might prevent people from consenting to genetic testing. By passing the act, government representative hoped that individuals would be willing to undergo medical tests intended to improve their overall health and wellness.

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