Workplace discrimination based on genetic information

In Tennessee and the rest of the U.S., employers are prohibited from misusing the genetic information of applicants and employees. Discrimination based on the genetic information of an employee or applicant is illegal, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces this prohibition.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was passed in 2008 and became effective in 2009. It prohibits the use of genetic information for making employment-related decisions in all aspects of employment. Employers are not allowed to use the genetic information of applicants or employees for decisions about hiring, promotions, bonuses, firing, and others.

Employers are not allowed to reject applicants because of their genetic information. They cannot ask for genetic information if it is not relevant for the job. If employers inadvertently learn about the genetic information of employees through overhearing it, they cannot use the information to discriminate against the employees. If they receive genetic information because of the notice requirements under the Family and Medical Leave Act or through medical tests of another type, they must keep the information in a separate and confidential file from the employees' other information in their personnel files.

People who have experienced workplace discrimination because of their genetic information or family medical histories may have grounds to file discrimination charges with the EEOC. They might benefit from consulting with experienced employment law attorneys about their potential claims. The attorneys may review the facts and offer assessments of whether the workers have a legal basis to complain. If the workers appear to have experienced prohibited discrimination or retaliation on the basis of their genetic information, the lawyers may advise them on their discrimination charges and the types of evidence that they should gather and submit to the EEOC. The lawyers may file complaints in court if the EEOC grants their clients leave to file lawsuits.

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