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Don't Ask About it

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed two lawsuits under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Wall Street Journal reports.

GINA was signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush and became law in 2009, and it prohibits employers from asking employees to undergo genetic testing and from taking employees' genetic backgrounds into account in hiring, firing, or promotion decisions. It also prevents health insurance companies from using genetic information in its coverage or rate decisions.

In these two cases, the EEOC alleges that the companies — a fabric distributor and a nursing home — asked employees and/or potential employees about family medical history during required physical exams. The fabric distributor has settled the case, the Journal adds.

The Journal also notes that the number of GINA-related claims is on the rise.

In addition, these new cases indicate that GINA "is broader than what many employers realize," Ilyse Schuman from employment-law firm Littler Mendelson tells the WSJ. They "should be a wake-up call for other employers who haven't paid attention to GINA that they need to."

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