The Difficult Circumstances Surrounding Workplace DNA Testing And The Law
Workplace drug testing employees is an important resource for many companies. Drug testing is in regular use with many major organizations to ensure that employees are up to the job and perform daily tasks safely.
Drug testing is legal, and business owners can test for a range of illegal substances that may compromise performance. That has become something of a norm in the US. Something that is a little unusual, however, is the idea of a workplace DNA test for all employees or applicants.
Why Would Companies Need To Set-Up DNA Tests For Their Employees?
There are clear pros and cons to this idea of workplace DNA testing. On the one hand, there is an idea that companies may need it. They feel they should be able to do whatever they need to catch a responsible employee. This especially true if they have acted in a way that would damage the company.
On the other hand, DNA tests are seen as an invasion of privacy. It’s hard to think of a reason why DNA testing at work may be an issue. Drug testing only tests for illegal substances in a person’s body and does not show their entire genetic code. However, in one interesting legal case – involving an unknown party defecating on a warehouse floor – changed the way we handle these situations.
How Did This Legal Case Change The Way We Perceive These Genetic DNA Test In America?
In this situation, the company tested the DNA of its subjects, and they sued because of the embarrassment of the situation. The company found neither to be guilty. The case ruled for the employees because of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
This stature claims that it is unlawful for employees to “request, require, or purchase genetic information on an employee.” As far as the court felt, a DNA identity test meant the collection of genetic material. The reason behind its collection had no bearing on the lawsuit.
This Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act is an important safety net for employees asked to have their DNA tested. There are important clauses that employers must adhere to. They must not:
- Share genetic information about employees
- Classify or discriminate based on the information provided,
- Acquire genetic information themselves, except in certain circumstances
- Retaliate against those who highlight their rights under GINA.
It is this aspect of certain circumstances that is important. That is where companies need to focus their attention and make sure they do not slip up. There are times when companies can obtain genetic material for lab tests.
- If the material was gathered inadvertently
- When it was part of a voluntary wellness program
- if it was unintentionally found through public sources
- if it was part of the FMLA certification process
- And if it was collected by employers in law enforcement or forensics, of through lab tests on toxic substances in the workplace.
There are loopholes and gray areas here where a DNA test for employees is allowed. However, the strength of GINA and the precedent set in the court case mean that worker rights are well protected. It is unlikely that we will see any DNA test introduced as standard in US companies anytime soon. For now, employees can remain secure in the knowledge that this Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act is working in their favor
Tags: DNA Tests, Lab Tests