GINA Systemic Class Actions by EEOC Beginning to Appear in Court Says Timothy Coffey, Chicago Employment Lawyer
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) April 14, 2014 – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled its first systemic class-action lawsuit at the beginning on 2014 claiming a company violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
“In this case, the EEOC sued an employer for asking, post job offer, that applicants obtain pre-employment medical examinations that included detailed questions about their family medical history,” recounts Timothy Coffey, a noted Chicago employment attorney. The lawsuit was filed in 2013 and resulted in a $50,000 settlement, as well as injunctive relief.
It began when Founders Pavilion, Inc., a New York rehabilitation center and nursing home, asked applicants that had received job offers to take a medical exam. Part of that process included filling out a patient history form that includes family medical history. The center also wanted the same type of information for staff returning to work and for those requiring their annual medical exams. According to the EEOC, the center was carrying out “a pattern or practice of employment practices made unlawful by GINA.”
“The EEOC also alleged in their complaint that the institution was in violation of Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as they declined to employ or dismissed three pregnant women and fired two disabled workers,” Coffey pointed out. In settlement, the company paid $370,000 to 138 workers asked over a two-year period, about their genetic family history and $259,600 for Title VII and ADA violations.
Although the facility ceased doing business, the settlement consent decree makes it mandatory that should the business open its doors once more, it must offer information and post notices about the lawsuit and its settlement to workers. Additionally, they must also put a new antidiscrimination policy in place dealing with pregnancy discrimination, genetic information and discrimination based on disability.
“The lesson inherent in this case is that employers need to carefully review and understand the statute pertaining to GINA so they do not violate its requirements. Overall, a company would be best to know all relevant statutes pertaining to hiring and firing workers,” adds Coffey.
Workers who face situations such as this one need to speak to an experienced employment attorney to understand their rights and how to move forward with legal action if they choose to do so.