Yesterday, the White House Office of the Press Secretary announced that President Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 ("GINA").  The intent of GINA is to protect individuals from employers and insurance companies denying employment, promotions or health coverage to people when genetic tests show they have a predisposition to cancer, heart disease, or other ailments.  But critics of the law are concerned that certain provisions are vague and may expose employers and insurers to frivolous lawsuits.  

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination in Employment ("GINE") Coalition lobbied and prepared numerous letters to Congress to have certain provisions of GINA revised prior to enactment in order to protect employers’ nondiscriminatory practices and legitimate collection and uses of genetic information.  According to Michael Eastman, executive director of labor law policy at the US Chamber of Commerce and a member of the GINE Coalition, the group remains concerned that GINA (1) will not preempt inconsistent state laws, (2)  will award “excessive” punitive and compensatory damages that will likely encourage “unmeritorious litigation," and (3) lacks exceptions to provisions barring the collection of genetic information.  

For a good review of the pros and cons of GINA, see an article published by GenomeWeb Daily News.  For a quick and dirty summary of  legal provisions of GINA, click and read on . . .


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The National Law Journal reported in its June 2007 issue that The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is raising new legal fears for health care providers concerning privacy suits. Labor and employment attorneys are concerned that courts have begun to let plaintiffs use HIPAA standards to prove liability in privacy suits, even though the law doesn’t currently provide a private right of action. And a new federal crackdown on HIPAA violators is also causing concerns for health care providers.


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