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What is harassment based on genetic information?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Discrimination

All employees have the right to a non-hostile workplace. Employers cannot discriminate against you as an employee or applicant because of your genetic information. Under the EEOC, employers cannot request or purchase genetic information.

The EEOC covers employees and potential candidates throughout all aspects of employment, including hiring, pay, promotions, job assignments, benefits, training and firing.

Understanding genetic information

Genetic information refers to any information about you or your family’s genetic tests. For example, your employer cannot discriminate against you because your family has a history of a disease or disorder. Likewise, your employer cannot ask you to provide genetic testing to prove whether or not you have a higher risk of developing a genetic disorder.

Employers generally cannot discuss genetic information with employees unless the employee volunteers. Some instances, however, are exceptions. For example, if you need to ask for leave to care for a family member, you may have to provide family medical history. Likewise, covered entities cannot disclose your genetic information.

Recognizing discrimination

Discrimination can manifest as derogatory comments, threats or harassment based on a genetic condition or disorder. While light teasing or the occasional comment may not qualify as harassment, persistent comments that make it difficult for you to perform your job are harassment.

Suppose you are in a hostile work environment and feel as though supervisors, colleagues or your employer discriminate against you because of genetic information. In that case, you may have a claim against them. In fact, you can make a discrimination claim without fear of retaliation.

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