New GINA Case Highlights Need To Ensure Compliance with GINA When Requesting FMLA Certifications

Recently, I was interviewed in connection with an article about a new charge of discrimination filed under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by a woman who had a double mastectomy because she carried a gene linked to breast cancer, and subsequently was terminated from her employment.  She is alleging that her employer was aware that she carried the gene in question, and terminated her as a result.  To date, approximately 80 charges of discrimination alleging GINA violations have been filed with the EEOC, although this appears to be the first case alleging termination in violation of GINA. 

During my interview, I noted that I advise employers to keep medical and personnel records separate to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to avoid the potential for conflicts, and not to request more detailed information about an employee's medical condition than is required to substantiate the need for leave.  Of course, under the FMLA, employers are generally restricted to the areas of inquiry contained in the certification of health care provider form to be completed by the employee's, or the employee's family member's, health care provider. 

Please see my prior blog post (authored by Erin Fitzgerald, Esquire) regarding whether employers run afoul of GINA when requesting FMLA certifications.