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Case Study: Genetic Discrimination

Jim Sanders is a small business owner; he owns a bakery in the corner of town. The bakery currently has ten employees. Jim is interested in hiring one more employee, a web content editor, who can help launch the bakery’s transition to an online medium. Two candidates apply for the position and both are highly qualified with similar work experience and skills. Even after Jim has interviewed both candidates, he isn’t sure which one he will hire. However, he learns soon after, through a Facebook post, that Candidate #1 has a genetic risk for multiple sclerosis (MS). The candidate is healthy as of now, but it is possible that the disease will manifest in the future. Jim and his wife Sandra have three children who are in high school and will be attending college soon. Jim knows that he will not be able to afford his children’s education AND the potential increase in insurance premiums and/or increased sick days, should Candidate #1 develop the disease. Jim decides that he is not willing to take the chance, and he ends up hiring Candidate #2, who is not genetically predisposed to any disease. Because his business is small with only 10 employees, the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act does not apply to him, and he is not breaking any laws.

If you were Jim, would you have hired Candidate #2 also?

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