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EEOC Applies ADA to Genetic 
Screening Case

Dianne Brown Maranto
APA Science Directorate

On February 9th the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a petition to prevent Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad from using employee blood tests to identify genetic defects. EEOC alleges that the railroad is using genetic testing on employees who have filed claims for work-related injuries (particularly carpal tunnel syndrome), and is doing so without their consent or knowledge. By filing its suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), EEOC is essentially testing whether or not genetic information is covered under the law.

Senators Daschle (D-SD) and Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Representative Slaughter (D-NY) are expected soon to introduce legislation banning employment and insurance discrimination on the basis of genetic information. Similar legislation was introduced in the 106th Congress last year, but did not move in that legislative session. There are currently 23 states that have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on genetic information, including Iowa, where EEOC has filed its suit.

See October 2000 TIP article page 154 for more background on this issue.

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