U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Founders Pavilion Violated Federal Law by Asking for Genetic Information From Applicants and Employees, Federal Agency Charges
NEW YORK - The Founders Pavilion, Inc., a Corning, N.Y., nursing and rehabilitation center, violated federal law by asking for genetic information during the hiring process, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC also alleged that Founders violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
According to the EEOC's suit, Founders conducted post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants, which were repeated annually if the person was hired. As part of this exam, Founders requested family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information.
Such alleged conduct violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), passed by Congress in 2008 and enforced by the EEOC. GINA prevents employers from demanding genetic information, including family medical history, and using that information in the hiring process. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 6:13-cv-06250) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The Founders suit is the second ever GINA lawsuit filed by the EEOC, following a complaint and consent decree filed in Tulsa, Okla., last week against Fabricut, Inc.
The EEOC further charged that Founders fired one employee after it refused to accommodate her during her probationary period,in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Further, the lawsuit also charged that Founders fired two women because of perceived disabilities under the ADA, and either refused to hire or fired three women because they were pregnant, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"GINA applies whenever an employer conducts a medical exam, and employers must make sure that they or their agents do not violate the law," said Elizabeth Grossman, the regional attorney in the EEOC's New York District Office. "Here, not only did the employer ask for prohibited information, it also discriminated against individuals with disabilities or perceived disabilities as well as pregnant women."
Kevin Berry, the EEOC's district director in New York, added, "Congress's intent is clear: employers cannot obtain genetic information from applicants or employees."
One of the six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) is for the agency to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, which includes genetic discrimination.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.