Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

A table with four squares and three rows.
Image Courtesy of the Coalition for Genetic Fairness

GINA is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment and health coverage on the basis of genetic information. Health insurers are prohibited from requiring or requesting information of an individual or an individual’s family members. Nor can this information be used for decisions regarding coverage, rates, or preexisting conditions. Employers cannot use genetic information for hiring, firing, or promotion decisions, or any other decisions regarding employment.

Genetic information includes:
* an individual’s genetic tests (including those done as a part of research studies)
* genetic tests of the individual’s family members (dependents and up to and including 4th degree relatives)
* genetic tests of any fetus or embryo of the individual or of a family member
* a disease or disorder affecting family members (family history)
* the results of genetic services and participation that includes genetic services for the individual or for a family member

Genetic information does not include one’s sex or age.

A genetic test is defined as “an analysis of human DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins, or metabolites, that detects genotypes, mutations, or chromosomal changes†(Department of Health and Human Services). Other tests like blood counts, cholesterol tests, and liver-function tests, are not protected under GINA.

However, GINA does not…
* apply to employers with 15 or fewer employees
* apply to members of the military nor does it cover veterans’ healthcare
* extend to life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance
* extend to diseases or disorders that individuals have been diagnosed with
* mandate coverage for any particular test or treatment

If an employer does have an employee’s genetic information, the employer must keep it confidential and in a separate file.

CLICK HERE for an analysis of the GINA legislation
CLICK HERE to read a case study addressing employment discrimination based on genetic information



Department of Health and Human Services. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008: Information for Researchers and Health Care Professionals. 2009 April.