Earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against BNV Home Care Agency (BNV), which provides home care and companionship services. The suit, EEOC v. BNV Home Care Agency, E.D.N.Y., Case No.: 14-CV-5441, alleges that BNV violated the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2009 (GINA), when it required job applicants and employees to complete an “Employee Health Assessment form.” Among other things, the form required applicants and employees to disclose family members’ illnesses and health conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, mental illness, epilepsy and cancer. BNV required employees to complete the forms on an annual basis.
GINA prohibits discrimination against employees or job applications because of genetic information. Under GINA, an employer is prohibited from using “genetic information” in making employment decisions. It also prohibits employers and other covered entities from requesting, requiring or purchasing such genetic information. GINA ensures that employers do not prevent the employment of an individual who is currently able to perform a job, based upon the possibility that the employee might develop a disease or disorder in the future.
It is not yet clear why BNV sought the prohibited information, and whether BNV might be able to avail itself of one of the narrow exceptions under GINA for collecting such information. The lawsuit was filed after attempts at settlement failed.