Employment Discrimination On The Grounds Of Genetic Disorder  

Recent reports have suggested that employers discriminate employees on the grounds of genetic disorders. This is mainly because of the fear to cover potential medical expenses of individuals who have a family history of genetic disorders. This discrimination is also faced by individuals who have no symptoms of the actual disease.

In 1973, Rehabilitation Act was passed to prohibit employment discrimination based on physical disability. This act prohibited federally funded agencies and institutions and was the first law to prohibit employment discrimination on the grounds of disability. In 1992, a reauthorization of the legislation broadened the definition by adding: An asymptomatic gene carrier who is termed as a diseased individual by the employer. To simplify: carriers of a certain cell disease gene, even if they show no symptoms, may be regarded as having the disease and hence be discriminated by the employer. So the 1992 reauthorization included this definition along with “individual with disability” to prohibit employment discrimination based on physical disability.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also broadened the scope of the 1973 legislation. The legislation is believed to protect employees against genetic discrimination in the work place. A recent decision by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has directed the ADA to include the protection of employees from employer discrimination on the grounds on genetic test results. 

But the debate has not resolved since employers still conduct genetic screening programs before offering employment to employees. Several states passed laws to protect employees from genetic discrimination. It is the duty of law makers to provide appropriate legislation for employees.

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