HR Issues Update: House Approves SHRM-Enhanced Genetic Non-Discrimination Bill
Promoting a work environment free of all types of discrimination in offices and worksites has been a major SHRM objective throughout the Society's history. SHRM's current focus is on helping to craft important genetic non-discrimination legislation on Capitol Hill.
By a vote of 420 to 3, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 493). The bill would make it illegal for an employer to treat employees differently in job- and benefits-related matters on the basis of their genetic information. Scientific breakthroughs in genetic mapping have created a concern that an employee and their individual family histories of genetic disorders could be used to discriminate against individuals in employment and health care coverage decisions.
SHRM, co-chair of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination in Employment (GINE) Coalition, supports enactment of genetic non-discrimination rules and has worked closely with Members of Congress on the legislation.
SHRM advised the sponsors of the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act that, as originally drafted, the bill would create major complications for HR professionals. By working closely with Members of Congress, the Society secured changes in the bill that make regulating genetic information and testing consistent with the Americans with Disability Act. Also, SHRM successfully recommended defining "family member" as blood relatives within four generations.
This legislation now moves to the Senate. For further information, please contact Michael Layman, SHRM's Manager of Labor and Employment Legislation.