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Discrimination on account of genetic information is illegal

Workplace discrimination takes many forms. Some people may lose out on job privileges and promotions because an employer made decisions based on a worker’s race, skin color, sexual orientation, or age. However, there are also people who experience denial of equal treatment in the workplace because of their family’s genetic history.

A person’s genetic information involves the medical history of the person’s relatives. People delve into the genetic history of their ancestors to find out their chances of coming down with a certain health condition. Unfortunately, sometimes a workplace finds out about a worker’s genetic history and takes punitive action.

Examples of genetic discrimination

According to the EEOC, employers who engage in genetic discrimination use genetic information about a person to determine whether to hire or that person or not. Alternatively, an employer can use genetic information to limit a worker’s job prospects or possibly fire the employee. Genetic discrimination may also occur if an employer tries to find out about a worker’s family genetic history, even by using the internet.

Given that genetic history can be sensitive, workers should be able to know that their employer would never share their personal information. Unfortunately, some employers may, for instance, break this trust by letting other employees know that a worker has a family member with a specific health problem, implying that the worker may manifest a similar condition in the future.

Why genetic discrimination occurs

As with other personal attributes like race and national origin, workers do not have control over their genetic history. The reason that some workplaces discriminate on this basis is that an employer does not want to pay out medical costs through their health insurance policy if a worker comes down with a major health problem.

Nonetheless, genetic history discrimination is illegal. A person’s genetic history does not mean that the individual cannot perform a job as an employer wishes. A worker who becomes the target of retribution due to family medical history may have a case against an employer.


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