Make these changes to comply with GINA

Kathleen Liever, an Employment Law Associate at Fowler White Boggs in Tampa, FL, says that you should take these steps now to comply with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008:

• Update workplace posters. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has revised its "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law" poster. Employers needing an updated poster can find a copy on the EEOC's website. (http://archive.eeoc.gov/posterform.html).

• Revise equal employment opportunity policies, discrimination and harassment policies, and employee handbooks to include "genetic information" as a protected class.

• Monitor your group healthcare plan to assure that it will be in compliance. "GINA provides for plan sponsor liability," warns Liever. "This includes reviewing wellness programs to ensure they're in compliance. It may require the elimination of any incentives from health risk assessment activities."

• Review employee files for documents that contain genetic information about an employee. "Store those records in the same manner as all medical documents submitted for ADA purposes, in a confidential medical file," says Liever.

• Train supervisors, managers, and any other employees who handle FMLA and ADA-related matters about GINA's prohibitions and requirements. "Be especially specific about provisions which generally prohibit deliberate acquisition of genetic information," says Liever.

• Examine employment forms, especially any requests for medical records or information, to make sure they don't request genetic information.

• Review all policies and practices concerning medical inquiries of employees and applicants.

Include FMLA, workers' compensation, and ADA-related inquiries, and modify these policies as necessary to reflect all GINA requirements.

"For example, whenever requesting an employee to have medical professionals provide documentation in connection with a fitness-for-duty exam, make it clear that family medical history and other genetic information should not be provided," says Liever.

Source

For more information about the occupational health role in compliance, contact:

• Kathleen Liever, Employment Law Associate, Fowler White Boggs P.A., Tampa, FL. Phone: (813) 222-2086. Fax: (813) 229-8313. E-mail: kathleen.liever@fowlerwhite.com