On May 16, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that the agency filed its second lawsuit charging a company with violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
The action, against The Founders Pavilion, Inc., a nursing and rehabilitation center in Corning, N.Y., comes just over a week after the EEOC disclosed information about its first-ever suit enforcing the federal GINA statute that was enacted in 2008.
In the earlier announcement on May 7, 2013, the EEOC reported that Fabricut, Inc., a distributor of decorative fabrics, agreed to pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle both a disability and genetic information discrimination lawsuit.
In its suit, the EEOC charged that Tulsa-based Fabricut violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused to hire a woman for the position of memo clerk because it regarded her as having carpal tunnel syndrome, and that it violated GINA when it asked for her family medical history in its post-offer medical examination.
In the second case, the EEOC said that Founders also conducted post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants, and that as part of its medical exams—which were repeated annually if the person was hired—Founders requested family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information.
Briefly, GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, or any other term or condition of employment.
Genetic information includes: family medical history; information about an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, such as tests to detect whether an individual has an increased risk of developing certain cancers or other diseases; and the fact that an individual or the individual’s family member has sought or received genetic counseling or has participated in clinical research that includes genetic testing.
“Employers need to be aware that GINA prohibits requesting family medical history,” said David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC, in a statement about the Fabricut settlement.
“When illegal questions are required as part of the hiring process, the EEOC will be vigilant to ensure that no one be denied a job on a prohibited basis.”
Referring the latest case against Founders (Case No. 6:13-cv-06250), which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester, the EEOC says it first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, and adds that there are allegations of violations of discrimination against individuals with disabilities (or perceived disabilities) as well as pregnant women involved.