Commission Embarks on Historic New Area of Jurisdiction
WASHINGTON – Embarking on an historic new area of jurisdiction, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today presented a Notice of Proposed Rule Making implementing employment provisions of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), and urged public comment.
“The addition of genetic information discrimination to the EEOC’s mandate is historic, and represents the first legislative expansion of the EEOC’s jurisdiction since the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990,” said Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “We welcome the opportunity to implement important provisions of this landmark legislation, and to expand the promise of equal opportunity in the workplace for everyone.”
Acting EEOC Vice Chair Christine M. Griffin said, “GINA is an important piece of legislation. As a deliberative body, we want to ensure that the intent of Congress is properly carried out through our regulations. Public comment on this NPRM is a critical part of that process. We look forward to a vigorous and thoughtful review.”
GINA, signed into law in May 2008, prohibits discrimination by health insurers and employers based on people’s genetic information. The EEOC is charged with issuing regulations by May 21 implementing Title II of GINA, which prohibits the use of genetic information in employment, prohibits the intentional acquisition of genetic information about applicants and employees, and imposes strict confidentiality requirements.
The EEOC opened a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule-making at a Commission meeting today. Also at the meeting, a panel of experts hailed GINA for allowing people to advance their health care without risking their jobs.
“We know that in the past, patients have passed up genetic testing that could benefit their health, and have gone to great lengths to keep genetic information secret – even from their own doctors,” said Susannah Baruch, Law and Policy Director of the Pew Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University. “With the passage of GINA and its implementation, we welcome a new era. There are many factors an individual may consider in deciding whether to take a genetic test, but the fear of discrimination must not be one of them.”
Other panelists at today’s meeting included:
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.