This company committed perhaps the cardinal sin under the commonly misunderstood Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). 

All Star Seed, Inc., La Valle Sabbia and Abatti, three Southern California seed and fertilizer providers operating as a single employer subjected job applicants to inquiries about genetic info (a.k.a., family medical history) and medical conditions as a condition of employment, according to charges filed by the feds.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the charges, claiming the company’s practices violated GINA, which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on genetic info.

In addition, the law bars employers from enticing workers form divulging genetic info using bonuses or incentives.

In the case of All Star Seed, La Valle Sabbia and Abatti, the EEOC claims the businesses illegally denied at least one applicant a job after the applicant was required to disclose a prior medical condition that he shared with other members of his family.

The EEOC also claims that three additional individuals underwent similar inquiries.

Under federal law, employers can only subject employees and job applicants to medical inquiries that are “job-related” or part of a “voluntary” wellness program.

Firm gets big to-do list

The businesses charged in this case have agreed to settle the EEOC’s lawsuit to the tune of $187,500, the majority of which will go to the four individuals mentioned above. The rest will be set aside as relief for others who may have been subjected to similar questionnaires.

As part of the settlement, the businesses also agreed — for a four-year period — to:

  • not subject job applicants to pre-offer medical examinations
  • stop making inquiries into medical conditions that are not job-related
  • no longer inquire about genetic info
  • provide bi-annual GINA and Americans with Disabilities Act training to all of the companies’ managers and supervisors, and
  • hold managers and supervisors accountable in their performance evaluations for any failure to comply with anti-discrimination policies.

Tread lightly around family medical history

Marla Stern-Knowlton, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, had this to say about the case:

“There are strict guidelines prohibiting inquiries into a job applicant’s medical condition and disability prior to hire. Even after hire, employers should avoid asking questions about an applicant’s medical condition if it is not job-related. With respect to genetic information – or family medical history – the law is even more restrictive in that most employers may never ask or acquire genetic information from applicants or employees.”

In light of her comments, it’s worth noting that employers can acquire family medical history from employees if it’s used in the construction of voluntary wellness programs. But it gets very tricky if there are financial incentives tied to the program.

When that’s the case, the acquisition and use of family medical history can’t have anything to do with any activity tied to those financial incentives. So treat very carefully when asking for such info.

Post Your Resume to 65+ Job Sites
Resume Service

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post