Monday, December 6, 2010

GINA Strikes and She's Not a Hurricane ... Yet

Back in 2008, President Bush signed into law something called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, usually known as GINA. Does GINA apply to your company?

Generally, if you have 15 or more employees, GINA does. What it does is prohibit an employer or employer plan from discriminating against an employee based upon their genetics. That makes sense, doesn't it? Yes, it probably does, but so did the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and we have seen what has happened under ADA.

Conditions are covered under ADA that this observer thinks were never intended as disabilities. Workplace accommodations have been required for some of the silliest things. Why is it that if you apply for Social Security, being disabled means one thing, but under ADA, disability means something completely unrelated. It's a simple word. Let's parse it: disability -- roughly akin to not being able. Disability and discomfort are not the same thing.

And, so I fear for poor GINA. What will wind up being considered genetic? Could the law wind up going so far as to suggest that the propensity to smoke cigarettes is genetic in nature? Is the propensity to overeat genetic in nature? Is the propensity to undereat genetic in nature?

Who knows, but as I say, I fear for the health of GINA.

You can read the final regulations here:

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