Genetic discrimination law takes effect

The employment provisions of the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act have now taken effect. This new federal law says that a company can’t refuse to hire people because they are genetically disposed to develop a particular disease or condition, even if this would cause the company’s health care costs to skyrocket.

The law not only prohibits discrimination based on genes, but also creates a new right to medical privacy for employees. In some cases, employers can get into big trouble if they violate this right to privacy, such as by requesting, requiring or disclosing genetic information about employees.