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Companies: Using genetic information against employees is illegal

Genetics have changed many things about how we grow. You now can find out if you have debilitating diseases before they strike, and you can see if you're predisposed to problems like cancer or other diseases or disorders. This is beneficial in a medical light, but should employers be able to see those results?

Could you face discrimination based on your genetic predisposition for a disease? You could. That's why a bill that has been presented is being questioned. The bill allows employers to offer a discount to employees who participate in a workplace wellness program, and that could save the worker and his or her family over $1,500 a year.

That information might be helpful in a medical sense, but there is really no saying how a company will use that information going forward. It could mean paying more for the patient confidentiality people already have today.

Right now, federal law bans companies from using genetic information during the hiring or firing processes. Additionally, genetics can't be used to discriminate against employees. That's not the problem. The problem is that the samples could eventually provide so much information that a business might be tempted to look and use that information, hurting employees in the process.

There are few workplace wellness programs in place now, but moving forward, genetics could become more common. It's illegal to discriminate against you due to your genetic test results. If that happens, you are in a position where you may be able to seek compensation from your employer for discrimination and for violating the law.

Source: CBS News, "Should companies be allowed to demand your genetic test results?," accessed April 10, 2017

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