Home Care Provider Unlawfully Asked Its Employees and Applicants for Genetic Information, Federal Agency Charged
NEW YORK - BNV Home Care Agency, Inc., a provider of companionship and home care services for seniors throughout New York City, will pay $125,000, as well as cease requesting genetic information from applicants and employees, to settle a genetic discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, BNV engaged in the unlawful practice of collecting employees' and applicants' genetic information by asking them questions about their family medical history on an employee health assessment form.
Such alleged conduct violates the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), which protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information, including family medical history. EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (EEOC v. BNV Home Care Agency, Inc., Case No. 1:14-cv-05441-JBW-RML) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Jack B. Weinstein on October 31, 2016, provides that BNV will pay $125,000 to a class of current BNV employees who were asked the impermissible genetic information questions on the company's previously utilized employee health assessment form. Also, the decree ensures that the revised form eliminates questions relating to genetic information, and requires BNV to conduct anti-discrimination training.
"Forcing employees and applicants to provide genetic information in order to maintain or obtain their jobs is clearly against federal law, and EEOC will continue to combat this form of discrimination," EEOC Acting New York District Director Judy Keenan said.
EEOC New York District Office Regional Attorney Jeffrey Burstein added, "Employers should take heed of this settlement, because there are tangible consequences to unlawfully asking employees and applicants about their family medical history, which has been prohibited since the enactment of GINA in 2008."
EEOC's New York District Office oversees New York, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and parts of New Jersey.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available at its website at www.eeoc.gov.