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Protection Against Discrimination Based on Genetic Information Is Coming Soon

The new year will bring another category of prohibited discrimination in California  — discrimination based on genetic information will no longer be legal.

California law already prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, and services provided by business establishments based on various personal characteristics such as sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, medical condition, marital status, and sexual orientation. Now SB 559 has added another category to the Unruh Civil Rights Act (CC §51) and the Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA) (Govt C §§12900–12996): discrimination based on genetic information.

The bill is intended to enhance the reach of the federal Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (Pub L110-233, 122 Stat 81) within California. The senator who introduced SB 559 explained that

California has a compelling interest in promoting and fostering the medical promise of genomics while relieving the fear of discrimination by strengthening laws to prevent it.

“Genetic information” under the bill includes:

  • The individual’s genetic tests;
  • The genetic tests of family members of the individual; and
  • The manifestation of a disease or disorder in family members of the individual.

For all you need to know about employment discrimination under FEHA, go to CEB’s Advising California Employers and Employees, chap 15 and Wrongful Employment Termination Practice, chap 1. For more on the Unruh Act in the housing context, turn to CEB’s California Eviction Defense Manual, chap 14, California Landlord-Tenant Practice, chap 2, and Advising California Common Interest Communities, chap 8.

© The Regents of the University of California, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

One reply on “Protection Against Discrimination Based on Genetic Information Is Coming Soon”

Hey Blog,
Maybe a little off topic, however, As genetic technology makes testing for a wide variety of genotypes possible, which of the following is likely to be an increasingly troublesome issue?

A. the need to legislate for the protection of the privacy of genetic information
B. discrimination against certain racial groups because of major genetic differences
C. alteration of human phenotypes to prevent early disease
D. use of genotype information to provide positive identification of criminals

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