Angelina and GINA

By Staff Report

May. 30, 2013

The Earth stopped rotating on its axis earlier this month when Angelina Jolie announced that she is undergoing a voluntary double mastectomy. Her rationale? Because she carries the BRCA1 gene, she is 87 percent likely to contract breast cancer at some point in her life.

Have you heard of GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act? As Phil Miles points out on his Lawffice Space blog, Jolie "just became the poster-child for GINA."

Among other things, GINA prohibits employers from:

  • making an employment-related decision with respect to an employee because of genetic information; or
  • requesting or requiring that an employee disclose their own genetic information, or that of a family member.

It is fortuitous for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Jolie has done so much to raise the profile of genetic profiling, since earlier this month, that agency announced that it settled the very first case it ever filed alleging genetic information discrimination. In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that the employer violated GINA when it asked an employee for a family medical history as part of its post-offer pre-employment medical examination. The EEOC's press release quotes EEOC Regional Attorney Barbara Seely, "Although GINA has been law since 2009, many employers still do not understand that requesting family medical history, even through a contract medical examiner, violates this law."

Seely is correct. Even though GINA has been law for more the four years, it is seldom discussed or understood. Employers need to take this lesson to heart. Genetics—both an employee's and that of one's family members—is off limits in employment.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or

What’s New at

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog


Minimum Wage by State in 2023 – All You Need to Know

Summary Twenty-three states and D.C. raised their minimum wage rates in 2023, effective January 1.  Thr...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog


New Labor Laws Taking Effect in 2023

The new year is fast approaching, and with its arrival comes a host of new labor laws that will impact ...

labor laws, minimum wage, wage and hour law

workforce blog


Wage and Hour Laws in 2022: What Employers Need to Know

Whether a mom-and-pop shop with a handful of employees or a large corporation staffing thousands, compl...

compliance, wage and hour law