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Employers cannot obtain genetic information during hiring process

Whenever a Houston resident gets a new job, they will be thrilled at the news. It is an exciting time, and as such, it is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget your rights as a newly hired employee, or as an employee amidst his or her probationary status. You will jump at the chance to prove to your new employer that you are clear for work; and in many cases, you will sign off on things that you likely had no idea you could legally refuse.

For example, an employer cannot discriminate against you based on external and completely irrelevant factors; such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or numerous other elements.

Another thing that may slip by many newly-hired employees is that an employer is prohibited from requesting your genetic information, or the medical history (or histories) of your family members. A recent case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission demonstrates that, when employer's get this information, they can use it to discriminate against employees who were recently offered jobs.

The EEOC sued a nursing home for obtaining the medical hisotires of potential employees (and even continuing the practice during annual medical reviews of employees). This goes against the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a federal mandate that bars companies from obtaining genetic information while they conduct interviews and bring on new employees. In the case of some employees at the nursing home, they were fired or not accomodated as a result of their medical hisotires.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "EEOC Files Class Genetic Information Discrimination Suit Against Corning Rehab Center," May 16, 2013

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