The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a suit Sept. 17 against a New York City home care services agency that allegedly violated federal law when it asked applicants and employees for genetic information.
According to the EEOC’s suit, BNV Home Care Agency asked for family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information, from a class of thousands of applicants and employees through an “Employee Health Assessment” form. The form asked the applicant or employee to indicate any illnesses experienced by family members, including health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, mental illness, epilepsy and cancer.
BNV Home Care Agency required applicants to complete the form after offering them jobs, but before hiring them, and employees were required to complete the form on an annual basis after starting their jobs, the EEOC says.
Such alleged conduct violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) passed by Congress in 2008 and enforced by the EEOC. GINA prevents employers from requesting genetic information, including family medical history, or using that information in the hiring process.
The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, the EEOC says.
“GINA is clear: employers cannot ask applicants or employees for their family medical history,” says EEOC New York Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose, in a written statement. “The EEOC will pursue these cases to the fullest extent of the law to ensure that such genetic inquiries are never made of applicants or employees.”
Written by Cassandra Dowell