Adam S. Forman, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Detroit and Chicago offices, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “EEOC Genetic Bias Charges Spiked While Pandemic Raged,” by Amanda Ottaway. (Read the full version – subscription required.)
Following is an excerpt:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges invoking the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act more than doubled from fiscal year 2019 to 2020, piquing the interest of employment experts who said the uptick could have stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic bringing more worker health discussions to the office.
The 440 GINA charges the agency received in fiscal year 2020 marked the most claims the EEOC has ever gotten under that 2008 statute, marking a sharp rise from the 209 GINA charges the agency got in 2019.
Title II of GINA bars discrimination at work based on a worker or applicant's genetic information. The law also covers information about an employee's family medical history, according to the EEOC.
While attorneys said they could not be sure what drove the spike in GINA charges last fiscal year, which stretched from October 2019 through September 2020, several pointed to the pandemic as one plausible culprit. …
Epstein Becker Green member Adam Forman said the spike could also be due in part to employees not fully understanding GINA's scope as it relates to questions about their health during the pandemic. Employers are allowed to ask screening questions, such as whether their employees have symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for the virus or tested positive, he said.
"Because the EEOC said those were lawful questions, it wouldn't surprise me if employees didn't know that," Forman said.