Genetic Discrimination in the Hiring Process

Employment practices liability insurance claims unfortunately happen all the time in the hiring process. As a part of the staffing industry, it’s important for your business to be aware of some of the top sources of EPLI claims, so you can ensure that your hiring practices are lawful and reduce your business’s risk of claims in the hiring process. This is the first part of a series on today’s top sources of EPLI claims, and the first claim we’ll be discussing is genetic discrimination.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Enforcement and Litigation Data, there were 206 filed cases of genetic discrimination in 2017. The data shows the top claims for the entire fiscal year of 2017. Since claims costs are rising, according to Insurance Journal, it’s important to know more about each specific claim. With that being said, it’s time to dive into genetic discrimination. It’s imperative to know what exactly genetic discrimination entails. Learn more about what goes into this employment practices liability claim and what it could mean to you, courtesy of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

What is Genetic Discrimination?

If a candidate has been treated unfairly in a situation because of their DNA, then they’ve been genetically discriminated against. Genetic discrimination happens in the employment or health insurance field when someone treats one adversely due to their DNA having certain differences in it that could cause a disease or other potential issue down the line. So if you have a higher chance of being sick, then you could get discriminated against by your health insurer, for example. Some employers also decide to hire or fire someone based on genetic conditions, which is not legal. Even asking a potential new hire for family medical history or genetic information could be construed as genetic discrimination, as this information is not relevant to the hiring process.

What’s the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)?

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, also known as GINA, is the federal law protecting Americans from being discriminated against for their genetic information. This way, people can’t be treated unfairly because of differences in their DNA that may affect their health. This law is the reason individuals can file employment practices liability claims for genetic discrimination.

Why was the Law Needed?

The law helps calm the fears of those who may be considering undergoing a genetic test for whatever reason. This way, individuals can focus on bettering their health. It also protects those who have been a part of research studies that fear that their DNA may be used against them in future situations. It’s also important to note that the law doesn’t cover other types of insurance, including life insurance and disability insurance.

While the law doesn’t protect everyone, it’s clear what benefits come from having this law. This federal law sets the bar for state laws against genetic discrimination. As an employer or a staffing agency, it’s important to understand that these legal protections exist and why they exist. In addition to the legal and financial repercussions of a genetic discrimination claim, having a suit filed against your business for discrimination could severely affect your reputation.

Be sure to come back next week for our next post about trends in EPLI claims.


About World Wide Specialty Programs

For the last 50 years, World Wide Specialty Programs has dedicated itself to providing the optimal products and solutions for the staffing industry. As the only insurance firm to be an ASA commercial liability partner, we are committed to that partnership and committed to using our knowledge of the industry to provide staffing firms with the best possible coverage. For more information about Staffing Professional Liability Insurance or any other coverage, we have available to protect your staffing business, give us a call at (800) 245-9653 to speak with one of our representatives.