Although the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) became law back in 2008, the EEOC — which enforces the law — has filed only two lawsuits since then charging employers with illegally asking employees/job applicants for their family medical histories.
One of those lawsuits — against Tulsa, Okla.-based Fabricut Inc. — was settled last week. The EEOC had charged the company with violating GINA by purportedly asking job applicant Rhonda Jones (whom it was considering for the position of memo clerk) for her family medical history as part of a post-offer medical exam. Fabricut asked Jones to — as a condition of its job offer — undergo an evaluation for carpal tunnel syndrome by her personal physician, and to undergo a pre-employment lab test and physical by its contract medical examiner. Although Jones’ doctor concluded she did not have CTS, the company says its medical examiner says she either had the syndrome or was predisposed to develop it, and it rescinded the job offer. Earlier this month, Fabricut agreed to settle the suit by paying $50,000 and offering other relief without admitting any wrongdoing.
Last week, the EEOC announced another GINA-related lawsuit, this one against Corning, N.Y.-based Founders Pavilion Inc., a nursing and rehabilitation center. According to the suit, the company conducted post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants in which they were asked for their family medical history. The exams were repeated annually if the person was hired.
The EEOC also charged Founders with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by firing one employee after refusing to accommodate her and refusing to hire two women because of perceived disabilities.
Elizabeth Grossman, the regional attorney in the EEOC’s New York District Office, had this to say in a statement:
GINA applies whenever an employer conducts a medical exam, and employers must make sure that they or their agents do not violate the law.”