A Legal Analysis of Genetic Screening

Essay by PollShell December 2004

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A Legal Analysis of Genetic Screening

Genetic screening as a part of the employment screening process is very controversial. Genetic testing is very controversial because it may be used as a tool to discriminate against potential employees. Considering the hiring process is very subjective, opponents of genetic testing strongly believe that potential hires are open to discriminatory hiring practices with genetic testing. The opponents of genetic testing maintain that employees are open to biases such as genetic disorders that are found in specific racial or gender groups for example, sickle cell anemia for African Americans or ovarian cancer for women. As a proponent of genetic testing, the employer will benefit substantially provided the organization stays within the law when administering genetic testing as a condition of employment.

Employers must be well educated about laws that prohibit discrimination before making genetic screening a part of the organization's standard for pre-employment hiring practices.

Employers must understand Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the American Disabilities Act. There are no specific laws prohibiting or regulating genetic testing. However, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) has been extended to include genetic testing. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has offered its interpretation of genetic testing for both the employee and employer. Federal law prohibits an employer to force an applicant to submit to screening before extending an offer of employment. The employer must weigh the significance/relevance of the test as it relates to duties performed by the employee. Legally, the employer must prove that the test is necessary to perform specific duties.

The employer must consider both of these laws because genetic testing applies to both of the previously mentioned statues. For genetic testing to be both legal and beneficial to the employer and employee, Title VII and ADA must...