EEOC fines home care agency $125,000 for genetic discrimination
- The EEOC charged BNV Home Care Agency, Inc., with unlawfully requesting genetic information from its employees and applicants to its services. The home and healthcare agency, which serves seniors, will pay $125,000 to settle the case, announced the EEOC.
- BNV collected genetic information from applicants and staff through questions about their family medical histories. The agency violated the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), which provides protection from discrimination based on genetic information.
- Collecting and possibly using genetic information, even when not explicitly referred to as genetics, violates the law under HIPAA and the ADA, as well as GINA.
The EEOC's latest wellness rules were supposed to clarify employer responsibility under GINA, the ACA and the ADA, meaning some employers may need to take a second look at the guidance provided. However, the AARP sued the EEOC over those same rules, saying that the rules allowed employers to ask for more personal information on forms that could violate the privacy of those willing to fill them out.
Employees should pay attention to the settlement in this case, warns EEOC regional attorney, Jeffrey Burstein. The penalties for illegally asking for genetic information are steep, he added. The GINA has been in force since 2008.