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PRESS RELEASE
9-17-14

EEOC Sues BNV Home Care Agency for Violating Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

BNV Home Care Agency Unlawfully Asked for Genetic Information From Applicants and Employees, Federal Agency Charges

NEW YORK - BNV Home Care Agency, Inc., a New York City home care services agency which provides companionship and home care services for seniors, violated federal law when it asked applicants and employees for genetic information, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, BNV Home Care Agency asked for family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information, from a class of thousands of applicants and employees through an "Employee Health Assessment" form.  The form asked the applicant or employee to indicate any illnesses experienced by family members, including health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, mental illness, epilepsy and cancer.   BNV Home Care Agency required applicants to complete the form after offering them jobs but before hiring them, and employees were required to complete the form on an annual basis after starting their jobs. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) passed by Congress in 2008 and enforced by the EEOC.  GINA prevents employers from re­questing genetic information, including family medical history, or using that information in the hiring process.  The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 14-CV-5441) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. 

"GINA is clear: employers cannot ask applicants or employees for their family medical history," said EEOC New York Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose.  "The EEOC will pursue these cases to the fullest extent of the law to ensure that such genetic inquiries are never made of applicants or employees."

Konrad Batog, the trial attorney assigned to the case, added, "GINA has been in effect since 2009.  Employers by now should have reviewed their procedures and practices to make sure that they or their agents do not violate the law by asking for family medical history."  

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.