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Labor & Employment Law Alert: Genetic Information Law To Take Effect

November 23, 2009

Genetic Information Law To Take Effect

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”) took effect for employers (as discussed in a previous Client Alert here) on November 21, 2009. GINA prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of their genetic information. Although Connecticut law already prohibits genetic testing discrimination in the workplace, the protections under GINA appear to be broader. This is because the EEOC interprets the term “genetic information” broadly to include family medical history. This is especially important for those employers who collect family medical history from job applicants or their employees. In addition, GINA requires that employers post information on the law by supplementing or updating their Equal Employment Opportunity posters. Supplements and revised posters can be found at the EEOC’s website at http://www1.eeoc.gov/employers/poster.cfm.

FMLA Amended To Provide Additional Family Military Leave

The FMLA was recently amended to expand the two categories of family military leave under the FMLA, qualifying exigency leave and servicemember caregiver leave. These leaves were added to the FMLA in 2008 (as discussed in a previous Client Alert here).

Under the amendments, “qualifying exigency” leave will now be available to any member of the Armed Forces who is on active duty in a foreign country or is called to active duty in a foreign country. Prior to the amendments, this was limited to members of the National Guard or the Reserves. The amendments also expand “servicemember caregiver” leave to include medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for a serious illness or injury that was incurred by a servicemember in the line of duty, and who was a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves at any time in the past five years. The amendments further provide that serious injuries or illnesses include those that existed prior to a servicemember’s active duty but which were aggravated in the line of duty. Although the amendments do not specify an effective date, employers should immediately review and revise their existing FMLA policies to include these new changes.