A lawsuit was filed under the recently enacted Genetic Information Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) on behalf of a woman who underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy after testing positive for breast cancer. GINA took effect on November 21, 2009 and made it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information.
GINA prohibits an employer from using genetic information to make an employment decision. It is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The use of genetic information and the correlation with occupational illness and disease has been raised in the past as a major issue for employees as to both privacy and discrimination in the workplace. The workers' compensation arena is a fertile ground for conflicting interests over genetic testing and dissemination of genetic information.
A delicate balance exists between, the ethical, moral and legal use of this evidence. The appropriate use of this information by an employers in assessing risks and benefits in the workplace is challenging. Many tasks at work now include risk factors of a carcinogenic, mutagenic, and/or genotoxic nature.
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