The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Please note: Prior to November 21, 2009, E.O. 13145 prohibited federal executive branch agencies from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of genetic information. As of November 21, 2009, however, Title II of GINA protects federal applicants and employees (as well as applicants and employees of other covered entities) from discrimination based on genetic information. Federal applicants and employees should use the Federal complaint process to file complaints of discrimination on the basis of genetic information. See www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm for information about GINA Title II.
This guidance explains the application of Executive Order 13145, which prohibits employment discrimination based on "protected genetic information" in the Executive branch. The guidance describes the Executive Order's general prohibitions on the collection, use, and disclosure of "protected genetic information," and explains how the limited exceptions to these prohibitions should be implemented. The guidance also discusses how an individual could establish coverage under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act based on "protected genetic information."
Applicants, employees, and former employees of Executive branch departments and agencies are covered. Individuals employed in the private sector are not covered.
No. The Executive Order did not create new rights. The Executive Order established a policy of nondiscrimination based on "protected genetic information" and directed the head of each department or agency to identify a high-level official to be responsible for implementing this policy. The Executive Order directed the EEOC to coordinate this policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of "protected genetic information."
The Executive Order defined "protected genetic information" to mean:
Family medical history does not provide information about an individual's current ability to perform a job. Therefore, family medical history, like genetic test results, is "protected genetic information" under the Executive Order.
No. "Protected genetic information" does not include an applicant's or an employee's current health status information, such as age, gender, and physical examination results, exclusive of family medical history.
The Rehabilitation Act and other laws, however, regulate when departments or agencies may request or require applicants and employees to take medical examinations.
Departments and agencies are prohibited from using "protected genetic information" for employment decisions. They also are prohibited from collecting and disclosing such information, with limited exceptions.
Generally, no. However, there are two limited exceptions to the prohibition on genetic testing. First, the Executive Order allows genetic monitoring of employees for the effects of toxic substances in the workplace under limited circumstances. Second, the Executive Order permits department or agency health offices to collect "protected genetic information" about employees who use the genetic or health care services offered by the health office. In both instances, the Executive Order imposes several requirements in order to prevent the departments or agencies from using the "protected genetic information" as a basis for employment decisions.
Generally, no. There is one exception: departments and agencies may request family medical history when they are allowed to make disability-related inquiries of post-offer applicants and employees under the Rehabilitation Act. Departments and agencies may only use such family medical history to decide if further medical evaluation is needed to diagnose a current disease that could prevent an individual from performing the essential functions of the position held or desired.
Generally, no. Disclosure is permitted only:
Applicants and employees who believe that a department or agency has violated the Executive Order by discriminating on the basis of "protected genetic information" may be able to establish coverage as "an individual with a disability" under section 501 ofthe Rehabilitation Act.
Yes. A department or agency that makes an adverse employment decision because of an individual's genetic test results or family medical history may be regarding an individual with no known impairments as having an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
Yes, in limited circumstances.
An individual should follow the same procedures generally used for section 501 complaints. See 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 (1999), as amended by 64 Fed. Reg. 37,644 (1999).
This page was last modified on May 09, 2019.
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