It’s Illegal for Employers to Ask About Your Family Medical History

Have you filled out a form, either while applying for a job or after being hired, that asked you to answer questions about your personal or family health histories? If so, your legal right to keep such information confidential was probably violated.  Juries have awarded millions in damages to applicants and employees who were unlawfully asked to reveal this information.

The forms look simple.  They may ask about common conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure and arthritis. They may also ask about more serious conditions like heart disease, cancer and mental illness.  Typically, the forms have 20 or 30 “yes” or “no” checkboxes.

These questionnaires are illegal under the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act of 2008 (GINA). GINA forbids the use of genetic information (health histories) in making employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. For example, it is illegal for an employer to reassign an employee from a job it believes is too stressful after learning of his family medical history of heart disease. There are no exceptions to the prohibition on using genetic information to make employment decisions.

And don’t be fooled by the use of the scientific term “genetic information.”  That’s just a fancy way of saying “you and your family’s history of illnesses.”

GINA also prohibits employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information about applicants or employees, except in very narrow circumstances. For example, it is illegal for an employer to require an applicant or employee to answer questions about family medical history during an employment-related medical exam, such as a pre-employment exam or a fitness for duty exam during employment.

Have You Been Forced to Disclose Personal and Family Health Histories?

Call our office if you have questions about your rights.  You do not need to show an actual financial loss in order to seek damages for the violation of your rights.  Call (800) 663-7999 for a completely free, private consultation.



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