- SMS Group, Inc., will pay $62,000 to resolve a genetic information discrimination charge filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- The Gary, Indiana, facility contracted with a third-party medical provider to conduct post-job-offer medical and fitness-for-duty examinations, according to a commission. And following an investigation, it alleged that job applicants and employees were asked to complete occupational health questionnaires that required the disclosure of family medical history, including parents' and siblings' history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Such action violates the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), which protects individuals against employment discrimination based on genetic information, including family medical history, EEOC explained. The law also prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information on applicants or employees, with a few exceptions.
- In addition to the $62,000 monetary relief, SMS Group also agreed to make policy changes, provide management and HR staff GINA training and to post employee notices.
While GINA suits remain relatively rare, compliance training for decisionsmakers is still critical. The law protects workers' genetic information; employers can't ask, require or use genetic information to make hiring and other employment decisions — a question arose with new verve thanks to the rise of wellness programs. Many wellness programs require unprecedented access to employee health information but employers must exercise caution.
Meanwhile, employers are still awaiting clarity on some of the law's requirements. EEOC adopted wellness regulations that were ultimately struck down in court, and has yet to replace them. The commission said earlier this week, however, that it's aiming to propose replacement rules in June. Until then, employers have been urged to exercise caution.