The California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (CalGINA) has been in effect in our state since 2012. This law amended nondiscrimination laws that were already on the books prohibiting genetic discrimination in many areas from housing to employment, mortgage lending, education, and more. CalGINA brings broader protections from genetic discrimination than are available from federal law and adds genetic information as a protected class under employment discrimination as established under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
If you believe you have been subject to genetic information discrimination in the workplace, you can turn to Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers for help. Our firm is well-versed in all workplace discrimination laws and can review your case to determine its merits and what legal options may be available to you. Our experienced attorneys have handled countless employment law violations for workers across the state and have built a solid reputation based on successfully-resolved claims and lawsuits.
What Is Considered a Genetic Information Violation?
Under CalGINA as well as the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), you cannot be discriminated against in the workplace due to your genetic information or that of your family. This discrimination prohibition relates to all employment decisions. Your employer cannot request or require genetic information about you or your family and make employment decisions based on that information.
Under the law, genetic information is described as:
- Genetic test information of you or your family members
- Your family medical history information or that of your family
- Information about whether you or your family members have manifested or will potentially manifest a certain disease or disorder
- Information about whether you have requested or received genetic services
- Information about whether you or a family member have participated in medical research involving genetic services
- Information about your or a family member's fetus (or embryo to be used for reproduction)
Genetic tests and information are commonly used to determine the matter of genetically-carried diseases in individuals and families. Examples of genetic diseases include sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and others.
Harassment Based on Genetic Information
Under CalGINA and GINA, harassment of an employee based on his or her genetic information is unlawful. You are protected from being subjected to offensive or derogatory comments directed at yourself or at a family member based on this information. Harassment is characterized by consistent, pervasive, or severe behavior that eventually makes your workplace so hostile or offensive that it becomes intolerable or negatively affects your morale and/or work performance. Harassment can also be manifested in an adverse decision directed against you, such as being denied a promotion, being terminated or laid off, being denied employment in the first place, and more. Workplace harassment can come from many individuals in the workplace, from supervisors to co-workers and even customers and clients.
If you file a discrimination charge against your employer or prospective employer or if you participate in any type of investigation, claim, or lawsuit based on discrimination allegations, you are protected from retaliation. The above nondiscrimination laws make it unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you whether through harassment, demotion, termination, or any other adverse behavior.
Filing Discrimination Claims
If you wish to bring a genetic information discrimination (GINA) claim against your employer, you must begin by filing a charge first with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You generally have 180 days to file your claim. If you are successful, you may be entitled to recover such damages as back pay, emotional distress, pain and suffering, legal fees, and other compensatory losses. These damages are capped based on how many people are employed by your employer. Our firm can assist you with filing such charges and help you understand how the laws apply to your case.