Nursing home faces trailblazing lawsuit over asking workers for family medical histories

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A nursing and rehabilitation center violated federal law by asking for workers' family medical history, a government lawsuit alleges. The suit is one of the first of its kind.

Founders Pavilion Inc. allegedly asked for family information as part of mandated medical examinations of workers, according to the complaint filed May 16 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These examinations were done after new workers were offered a job but before they started, and were repeated annually, the EEOC contends.

This marks the second-ever EEOC lawsuit over the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. GINA prohibits employers from demanding genetic information of workers, including family medical histories, and using that information in the hiring process. Founders' business manager declined comment Tuesday and the facility's administrator did not respond to a message left on his voice mail, asking for comment. The facility is a 120-bed non-profit.

The first GINA case, filed earlier this month, involved similar charges against Fabricut, a fabric distributor. Fabricut paid $50,000 in a settlement, and agreed to take steps to prevent future GINA violations.

In announcing the Founders lawsuit, the EEOC did not specify an amount it is seeking. However, the nursing home faces additional charges that it also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act in its hiring practices — for instance, by refusing to hire or firing women because they were pregnant.

Click here for the full text of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

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