EEOC: Mining Company Crossed Legal Line by Asking Applicants About Family Medical History

Employers are prohibited under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act from asking job applicants about their family medical history. In a lawsuit filed last Friday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged that a minimum equipment manufacturer violated GINA by requiring applicants to answer questions about their family medical history as part of the hiring process.

According to EEOC’s suit, after making conditional employment offers, Joy Mining Machinery required applicants to undergo a post-offer medical examination. EEOC charges that Joy Mining improperly requested family medical history on its pre-placement physical form asking applicants if they had a family medical history for “TB, Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy, [and] Heart Disease.”

GINA protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information, including family medical history. GINA also prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information about applicants or employees, except in very narrow circumstances which do not apply in this case, the EEOC said.

“Federal law is clear — it is unlawful for an employer to require an applicant or employee to answer questions about family medical history during an employment-related medical exam, such as a pre- or post-employment exam or a fitness-for-duty test. When employers violate those legal prohibitions – as well as the simple fairness of the matter – then EEOC will step in,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.



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