US Bill prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on genetic conditions

A new US law prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person’s genetic predisposition to a disease.

The Bill targets employment and insurance measures, and has received almost unanimous approval in the US Congress.

While most of corporate America has signalled its support, a coalition of business groups has warned that companies could face excessive punitive damages for simple clerical errors.

Another criticism is that the federal Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act does not override state legislation, so companies could encounter conflicting jurisdictional standards.

But business groups did support changes to the proposed Bill, which prohibit the law from forcing employers to cover genetic conditions currently not in their benefits plans.

Supporters claim that no genetic discrimination cases have occurred in the 30-plus states with such laws, and predict scientific gains as more people – assured of secure handling of DNA information – agree to genetic testing.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who introduced the Bill, said that, apart from preventing discrimination, the law would “encourage Americans to seek out preventative healthcare, and participate in clinical trials critical to finding cures for some of our most deadly genetic-based diseases”.

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