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Information on Genetic Discrimination and Laws

By Edited Feb 10, 2014 0 1

It seems normal for people to hear someone being discriminated upon because of their age, disability, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, etc. However, in the wake of technological and medical breakthroughs of the recent century, gene mutation and genetic testing have been proven possible. And now, it seems that even people who have undergone a genetic procedure are also being discriminated upon.

Genetic Discrimination

This kind of discrimination happen when people who experienced gene mutation that increases the risk of inherited disorder or undergone DNA-based tests are treated differently or experience rejection and isolation from other groups of people. Like those who experienced the same discriminatory acts, they are considered different that's why they are treated that way.

This is often experienced in workplaces or when applying for insurance. For example, health insurer may refuse to cover a person because the other members of his family have a higher than average history of prostate cancer. Genetic discrimination in employment, on the other hand, may happen when an employer rejects an applicant with bad genes based on his health history.

Genetic Information

During the 70's to 80's, genetic information was considered in making employment decisions regarding discrimination for applicants with sickle cell trait. Genetic information includes the person's genetic test, as well as his family members', and their medical history. Genetic test results are included on applicant's medical records. And often, the results affect the person's employment and insurance coverage.

History of Law on Genetic Discrimination

In 1991, the state of Wisconsin banned genetic discrimination in the workplace. Then in 1995, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission included genetic predisposition under "disability" in the Americans with Disabilities Act. President Clinton call for the banning of said discrimination in 2000 and asked the Congress to pass a law for the private sector regarding the issue.

President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) into law in May 2008, and it officially was approved in November 2009. Title I of GINA addresses the use of genetic information in health insurance while Title II prohibited discrimination in workplaces because of genetic information. The use of genetic information in making employment decisions is also illegal.

Despite this, the law is still very young and still needs to improve, just like how the field of genetic testing continues to grow fast.



Jul 11, 2010 8:07am
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