Genetic Information Discrimination

Rob Wiley: My name is Rob Wiley and today I'm going to be speaking with Austin employment lawyer, Colin Walsh, about genetic information discrimination. Now the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act or GINA is a recent law and we saw a lot published about it. But I'm not sure that, that either of us have ever actually seen a case coming up.

Colin Walsh: No. I have not had any cases or potential clients come in and talking about violations of this law.

Rob Wiley: But I think congress was concerned. All of a sudden we started having, DNA test kits that you could order through the mail. I think there was a fear that that people were going to start knowing a lot more about their genetic information. And so there would be a tendency among employers to discriminate against somebody who might have a gene that would link them to Alzheimer's or breast cancer or something like that. And if you were discriminated against because of genetic information what could an employee do?

Colin Walsh: Well they would follow the same process and procedure that they would follow if they were discriminated for any of the other reasons protected by law. So they would start off by filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC who investigates these things. And consulting with an employment attorney to best proceed on their case.

Rob Wiley: And I think this is one of those things that sometimes people don't know is that going to the EEOC is like going to court or anything else. I think you're better off having an attorney with you. There's no requirement that you have an attorney in court. There's no requirement that you have an attorney with the EEOC. But having an employment attorney who's done this over and over again I think gives you a real leg up on making sure that your rights are protected. But I would be interested in any case that arose under the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act if for no other reason than that they are so rare. But that is an area that is protected and if an employer discriminated against you in any way because of genetic information I would want to look at that case and and see if there's something that we could do.

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