Employer Will Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC’s First GINA Lawsuit

An Oklahoma employer will pay $50,000 to settle the first lawsuit the federal government filed to enforce the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The case, Civil Case No.: 13-CV-248-CVE-PJC, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is tasked with enforcing GINA, filed suit against Fabricut, Inc., a fabric distributor. EEOC alleged that the company:

  • (1) violated the ADA when it refused to hire a woman as a memo clerk because it regarded her as having carpal tunnel syndrome; and
  • (2) violated GINA when it asked for her family medical history in its post-offer medical examination.

The employee in question, Rhonda Jones, worked as a temporary clerk for Fabricut. When her temporary assignment was ending, she applied for a permanent position.

Case Background

Fabricut made Jones an offer and sent her to its contract medical examiner for a pre-employment drug test and physical, according to EEOC. At the exam, she was required to fill out a questionnaire and disclose disorders in her family medical history. The questionnaire asked about the existence of heart disease, hypertension, cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, arthritis and “mental disorders” in her family. After the exam, the examiner concluded that further evaluation was needed to determine whether Jones had carpal tunnel syndrome.

Fabricut told Jones she needed to be evaluated by her personal physician and to provide the company with the results. Her doctor informed the employer that Jones did not have carpal tunnel syndrome. Despite the letter, the company rescinded its job offer. According to EEOC, Jones urged the employer to reconsider but it refused.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Fabricut will distribute nondiscrimination policies to employees and provide anti-discrimination training to employees with hiring responsibilities.

“Although GINA has been law since 2009, many employers still do not understand that requesting family medical history, even through a contracted medical examiner, violates this law,” Barbara Seely, a regional attorney with EEOC, in a press release.

David Lopez, EEOC’s general counsel, reminded employers that the commission considers GINA enforcement a priority. “When illegal questions are required as part of the hiring process, the EEOC will be vigilant to ensure that no one be denied a job on a prohibited basis,” he said.

Read More…