Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.

How to lawfully request health-related information from an employee or his/her health provider

When an employer makes a lawful request for health-related information – for example, to support an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation under the ADA or a request for sick leave – it should warn the employee and/or health care provider from whom it requested the information not to provide genetic information.  If this type of warning is provided, any resulting acquisition of genetic information will be considered inadvertent, and therefore not in violation of GINA. In other words, use of this type of warning creates a “safe harbor” for employers who receive genetic information in response to a request for health-related information.

Suggested GINA Safe Harbor Language

“The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information when responding to this request for medical information. “Genetic information,” as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.”