Mining company settles genetic discrimination case

Genetic Inquiries Not Permissible
Genetic Inquiries Not Permissible

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a settlement January 7 with Joy Underground Mining, which allegedly violated federal law by requiring job applicants to disclose genetic information during their hiring process.

“Requiring an applicant or employee to answer questions about his or her family medical history, even when part of an otherwise permissible employment-related medical exam, violates federal law,” Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director the EEOC’s Philadelphia office, said in a news release.

Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, passed by Congress in 2008, employers are prohibited from “requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information” about their employees.

After making conditional employment offers, the Pittsburgh-area based mining company allegedly required applicants to fill out a form, asking them to disclose whether they have a family history of “TB, Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy, (and) Heart Disease.” The EEOC filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in December 2015.

As part of the settlement, Joy Underground Mining will pay an undisclosed amount in compensation to the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, whose names were also kept confidential.

The company must also “refrain from inquiring directly or indirectly about genetic information of an applicant, an applicant’s family member, employee, or an employee’s family member except as permitted by GINA,” according to the news release. It must also provide training to ensure compliance.