EEOC Settles Genetic Discrimination Case in CA

The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) prevents employers from discriminating against employees or potential employees based on their genetic or family medical history. In a recent case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled a class action for $187,000 with a California seed and fertilizer operation for refusing to hire applicants after reviewing medical histories and the medical histories of the applicant’s family members. According to the EEOC, the class action (EEOC v. All Star Seed) was filed in September of 2013 against All Star Seed Inc. and its subsidiaries.

wheelchair3A job applicant filed a complaint with the EEOC in November 2012 after he was denied a position as a dispatcher for the company. According to court documents, the company rejected his application after he reported for being hospitalized for atrial fibrillation, even though the condition had no connection to job duties related to the position. The applicant also reported that the company inquired about the medical history of his relatives and he reported that at least one of his family members had the same medical condition.

Employees in California and nationwide are protected under state and federal laws to prevent discrimination in the workplace. GINA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants and employees based on genetic information. Genetic information may be accessible through medical documentation and family history. The law prohibits employers from requesting medical histories from applicants or from seeking out or purchasing the information from other sources.
The EEOC publicly reported the settlement on November 10, 2014, alleging that the corporation violated GINA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to the plaintiff, the company required that he and other applicants undergo physical examinations and screenings as well as fill out medical history surveys as conditions of their employment. The EEOC also alleged that All Star Seed failed to protect the confidentiality of the genetic and medical documentation of each applicant. Their statement indicated that the company failed to separate and protect medical documents and illegally co-mingled medical histories with other personal files that were not kept confidential.

In addition to the financial settlement, the corporation also agreed to a “consent-decree’ that it would not require medical exams or inquire about medical conditions. It also agreed that it would not inquire about any non-job-related medical conditions or compromise the confidentiality of the applicants. A similar case was settled for $370,000 in a lawsuit against Founders Pavilion after the company asked faculty about medical history and documentation.

GINA along with other federal and California state laws protect employees against unlawful discrimination. If you believe that you were rejected from a position or denied employment because of illegal discrimination practices, we can protect your rights. Our Orange County discrimination attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to protect your rights. We will take a strategic approach to build a case on your behalf and work to maximize your settlement or verdict. Prior to filing a complaint, it is important to know your rights and potential claims. Do not settle without consulting with an independent and experienced advocate.

Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 714-937-2020.

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