I believe I have been discriminated against at work. What are my legal rights?

I’m sorry to hear about your discrimination. Discrimination against an employee on the basis of genetic information is illegal. That type of discrimination is far less common than discrimination based on other factors, such as race, age, or gender, but it does occur.

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 makes discrimination based on genetic information illegal. According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, an employer can never use genetic information to make an employment decision, because genetic information is not relevant to an individual’s current ability to work. This prohibition applies to employment actions like hiring, pay, firing, layoffs, and promotions.

Some types of genetic information that cannot be considered by an employer when making an employment decision include information about a person’s family medical history, a person’s family genetic tests, and genetic information of a fetus carried by a pregnant woman. For example, if an employer knew that everyone in an employee’s family had a history of cancer at an early age, the employer may worry about the employee’s future with the company and related medical and insurance costs. However, employers are not allowed to consider that information when making decisions.

In addition, employers cannot obtain genetic information, with some exceptions. An employer may accidentally hear the information, or obtain it as part of a health service offered by the employer. If an employee asks for time off for FMLA to care for a family member, the person’s family medical information may be required. An employer can accidentally find out the information through documents, as long as the employer is not intentionally searching for it. The employer may obtain the information through DNA testing for law enforcement purposes, or through testing for toxic substances. If an employer does receive genetic information, the employer must keep it confidential.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your genetic information, you should speak with an attorney. If you’re in Los Angeles, call me, Conal Doyle, Los Angeles employment attorney, at 310-385-0567. My team can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.