$329,640 Settlement in Disability and Genetic Information Discrimination Case Against Security Company

 
Monday, June 27, 2016
 
One of the largest security companies in North  America, Guardsmark, has agreed to settle disability and genetic information  discrimination charges for monetary relief totaling $329,640. The settlement of EEOC charges of discrimination impacts over 1,100 job applicants who were required  to disclose their disabilities and/or family medical history.

Charges were  filed with EEOC's Little Rock and Honolulu offices in 2011 and 2012 alleging  that Guardsmark required job applicants to disclose their disabilities and/or  family medical history, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). EEOC's  investigation found that Guardsmark required applicants to complete  questionnaires with questions pertaining to their medical condition and family  medical history during the application process. Such pre-employment inquiries  are prohibited under the ADA and GINA.

Without  admitting liability, Guardsmark agreed to enter into a two-year conciliation agreement with EEOC and the alleged  victims, thereby avoiding litigation. During the course of EEOC's investigation,  Guardsmark ceased asking about genetic information and removed the questionnaires  from the application process. Aside from the monetary relief, the company  further agreed to remove prohibited medical inquiries in the application  process. EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement.

Genetic  information includes information about an individual's genetic tests and the  genetic tests of an individual's family members, as well as information about  the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual's family members  (i.e. family medical history). GINA forbids discrimination on the basis of  genetic information when it comes to any aspect of employment, including  hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe  benefits, or any other term or condition of employment. It is unlawful for an employer to ask,  acquire or maintain such information.

Under the  ADA, an employer may not ask disability-related questions and may not conduct  medical examinations until after it makes a conditional job offer to the  applicant. This helps ensure that an applicant's possible hidden disability  (including a prior history of a disability) is not considered before the  employer evaluates an applicant's non-medical qualifications. An employer may  not ask disability-related questions or require a medical examination pre-offer  even if it intends to look at the answers or results only at the post-offer stage.


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