Cellular And Blood Trait Discrimination
As genetic testing becomes more precise and more widely available, more and more is known about how a person’s genes are going to “express” themselves as the person ages. This information is becoming available not only to individuals, but also to their employers. Sometimes, employers improperly ask for blood screenings meant to identify (and presumably to rule out as suitable for the job) certain cellular or blood traits such as amenability to certain diseases like sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, and other diseases identified by “genetic marker.”
Unless the job requires specifically that a person not possess such a trait (and such jobs are exceedingly rare), it is illegal for an employer to require, and certainly, for an employer to base hiring, firing, promotion, demotion or termination decisions upon possession of a particular cellular or blood trait. A federal act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), prevents discrimination on the basis of genetic information, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination specifically prohibits discrimination based upon a person’s cellular or blood traits.
Employers who engage in improper questions, genetic questions, or which require improper genetic testing, and who base tangible job action decisions such as hiring, firing, demotion, promotion or termination on such information, are violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and may subject themselves to compensatory and punitive damages.
The New Jersey employment and civil rights law firm of Costello & Mains, LLC, is experienced in handling this type of esoteric law where cutting-edge medicine meets civil rights theory.