Employment Insurance Act - What is Genetic Nondiscrimination?

The employment insurance act is formally known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which governs pension plans and other retirement benefit paid to employees. Provisions of the act were amended in 2008 through passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The act prohibits improper use of genetic information with both health insurance and employment.

Permits Genetic Testing to Continue

One of the purposes of the act is to allow genetic research to continue and to allow it to be conducted without fear that access to this information may result in discriminatory practices by insurance companies and employers. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) human genome research project needs access to test subjects for the purpose of unlocking the secrets of human genetics. This research stores information relative to every test subject that has been studied and has submitted to genetic testing.

Prevents Misuse of Genetic Testing Results

Against the objections of such organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Manufacturers Association and the Society for Human Resource Management, genetic information may indicate a predisposition to a disease or health-related condition but cannot show whether or not the person would ever become sick from that condition. Use of the information may bias employers and insurers against providing employment opportunities or benefits to such a person.

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