Genetic Discrimination and You


A recent article in Time Magazine titled Can You Be Fired For Your Genes? raised some concern among our constituents online. We wanted to address the issue and provide as much information as possible for those with genetic predisposition to certain cancers.

Below is a blog from Jamilla N. Williams, M.A., Regional Director of Case Management with our partners at The Patient Advocate Foundation with tips on what to do to protect yourself from genetic discrimination. If after reading this you still have concerns, please contact LIVESTRONG at 1-855-220-7777 or go online and fill out a request for information. We’re here to help.

The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) prohibits the utilization of genetic information to mistreat Americans based on their DNA. This law prevents discrimination from both health insurers and employers. The law was enacted to ensure that Americans were not discouraged from getting genetic tests or participating in research studies in fear that this information would be shared with insurers and/or employers. The legislation bans employers from using an individuals’ genetic information to fire, hire, promote, or place an individual in a specific position and disallows health insurance carriers from utilizing DNA to deny coverage or raise insurance premium costs.

If you feel that your employer has discriminated against you based genetic information, the following offers a step by step guide to follow:

  • File a “charge of discrimination” with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This can be done in person at a local field office or by mail. You also have the option to start your charge online. The following website can be utilized for further clarification on this process.
  • If a file is charged, you may be requested to resolve the dispute with your employer via a mediation; which is an informal resolution process involving a neutral mediator.
  • If an investigation results in no violation found, you will be provided a “right to sue” notice allowing you to file a suit in a court of law. If the investigation results in a violation, the EEOC will attempt to resolve with issues with a voluntary settlement involving the employer.
  • The complaint must be filed within 180 days from the date of the occurrence (Federal employees have 45 days from the expected occurrence to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Office (EEO) Counselor of their agency of employment).

In the event that you feel your rights have been violated by a health insurance carrier; it is recommended that you do the following:

  • Contact the insurance carrier’s customer service department and file a complaint; they may have a formal process that should be provided during the call. This should result in follow up.
  • A complaint can also be filed with the state insurance commissioner. Each state office can be located on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website, which is You will be required to fill out a form that provides details on your complaint. A state representative may contact you for supporting documents or to ask you follow up questions. The state representative will then contact the health insurer to try and resolve the issue. The representative should be in contact to update you on the status.

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