The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has settled a discrimination lawsuit against three Southern California seed and fertilizer providers for $187,500. The class action suit represented a class of applicants allegedly subject to illegal medical and genetic employment inquiries in violation of federal law.

Under federal law, certain inquiries about an applicant’s medical condition and family medical history are illegal. This information, also known as genetic information, is also protected from the scrutiny of employers under strict guidelines set by the EEOC.

Attorney Carney Shegerian, founder of Santa Monica based law firm Shegerian & Associates, says the settlement demonstrates that the EEOC is prepared to uphold an employee’s right to keep certain protected information private.

“The implications of this settlement are that employers must be extremely careful when inquiring about the past medical history and disabilities of job applicants. Certainly, employment decisions such as the decision to hire or fire should not be based on the illegal information obtained from such inquiries. These inquiries could be violations of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act as well as other federal laws.”

Attorney Shegerian went on to state that the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) could become a vital asset to employees in the future. “As improved technology facilitates the process of obtaining genetic information for employers, employees may need to rely more and more on the protections of GINA as well as EEOC guidelines to obtain justice for illegal employment inquiries.”


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