You have the right to be treated equally regardless of your genetic information, which includes family medical history. Covered employers can’t use genetic information (such as genetic tests of you or your family members, your family medical history, or your request for, or receipt of, genetic services such as genetic counseling) to make employment decisions.

It is usually unlawful for your employer to learn about your genetic information. There are six exceptions to this rule, such as overhearing your conversations about your health, or getting your family medical history as part of the process to certify leave under the law. It is also unlawful for your employer to disclose any genetic information it obtains, except in six very narrow circumstances (such as if you ask in writing for genetic information that is part of health or genetic services you received from your employer or in response to a court order that specifically requests genetic information).

Your employers must keep any genetic information it obtains in medical files that are separate from personnel files and treat these files as confidential medical records.

You have the right to file a complaint or a Charge of Discrimination, participate in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment or discrimination without being retaliated against by your employer.

What this means for you

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you because of:

  • your family medical history;
  • information from your or a family member’s genetic tests (such as a test to determine if someone has a gene indicating a predisposition to certain forms of breast cancer, or a test to determine the presence of genetic abnormalities in a fetus);
  • your or your family member’s request for, or receipt of, genetic services or participation in clinical research that includes genetic services; and
  • the genetic information of a fetus carried by you or a family member and the genetic information of any embryo legally held by you or a family member using assisted reproductive technology.

An employer may never use genetic information to make an employment decision because genetic information is not relevant to your current ability to work.

Examples of discrimination

In general, this means that you cannot be:

  • fired,
  • rejected for a job or promotion,
  • given lesser assignments,
  • forced to take leave, or
  • otherwise disciplined

because of your family medical history or genetic information.

Questions? We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your rights as a worker. Many questions about your rights may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

For assistance, please contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

Learn about filing a complaint

We’ll help you decide what to do next and determine whether filing a complaint is the best course of action. You must file a complaint within a certain timeframe to take further legal action, so it is best to begin the process early.

Please note that it is illegal for your employer to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against you for reporting an issue to the EEOC.

File with EEOC