Is Genetic Testing At Businesses A Bad Idea?

I discovered an interesting and opinionated article on Why Genetically Testing Employees Is A Bad Idea, From An HR Perspective.

To start with, it’s probably not legal. Leaving aside the patchwork of state laws, our genetic records are covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, which is extremely strict about who gets to look at your records and why. The House law claims that HIPAA, and the associated Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, (not to mention the Americans with Disabilities Act) doesn’t apply to workplace wellness programs, which is where the genetic testing would be allowed, but the government is clear that genetic information is health information, and that all relevant laws apply.

Any company wants to stay well clear of HIPAA in particular. Even something seemingly as innocuous as issuing a claim in bankruptcy court or leaving a laptop lying around can spiral out into an expensive legal battle that costs thousands or even millions of dollars. As far as the government is concerned, voluntary testing or not, genetic information is health information, and that means any company testing their employees is inviting HIPAA into their office.

In the 1997 sf film Gattaca, compulsory participation in a DNA database enforces strict genetic standards. The film was directed and written by Andrew Niccol, and starred Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law.


(Employees provide a DNA sample upon entry)

In the film, the contents of this database determine who is allowed to fully participate in society. People who are brought into the world without genetic engineering form an underclass, whose very DNA denies them access.

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