Disparate impacts and GINA: Congress's unfinished business

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The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) deviated from preceding employment discrimination laws by excluding disparate impact liability, an important enforcement component to promote substantive equality. Nevertheless, Congress did not intend for this to be a permanent exclusion and, instead, assigned itself future work: after six years, a commission was to educate Congress on genetic discrimination incidents, update Congress on relevant scientific advances in genetics/omics, and provide recommendations to Congress on the need to enable disparate impact liability. Ten years after GINA became law, it seems appropriate to take a look back at the broader employment law context within which Congress made this decision to exclude disparate impact liability for genetic discrimination, explore how and why Section 208 became inserted into GINA, and provide a status update on the additional policy work mandated. After reasonable investigation, there is no information to indicate that Congress fulfilled its statutory obligation to appoint members to a Genetic Nondiscrimination Study Commission or that any policy work envisioned by Section 208 has commenced. To fulfill a promise of fairness and equality, Congress must revisit the issue and enable disparate impact liability to value genetic diversity and prevent any 'genetic underclasses' from forming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-549
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Law and the Biosciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 18 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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