By now, you've probably already heard about the biggest
news in the world for the past day or so . . . Angelina Jolie's double masectomy. Why an apparently uneventful
preventive surgery on an actress is the number one story in the world is a
riddle I have yet to solve. I have, however, nailed down an employment law
You can't spell Angelina without GINA (if you rearrange some letters)! The key
here is the reason Ms. Jolie had the operation:
[T]he truth is I carry a "faulty" gene, BRCA1,
which sharply increases my risk of developing *** cancer and ovarian cancer.
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of *** cancer and a 50
percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of
each woman. Only a fraction of *** cancers result from an inherited gene
mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on
Ms. Jolie may not realize it yet, but she just became the
poster-child for GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act!
This is a great example of the reason Congress passed GINA. Genetic testing has
gotten to a point where we can predict, with farely high probability, the
chances of contracting certain major diseases. That is why GINA generally
prohibits employers from conducting genetic testing, requesting genetic
information, and discriminating on the basis of genetic information.
An unscrupulous employer may misuse such information to only hire people
who are "low risk" in terms of insurance costs and availability for
work. GINA outlaws that.
In a related story, the EEOC just settled its first GINA lawsuit.
Read additional employment law articles on Phillip Miles'
blog, Lawffice Space.
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