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Genetic Discrimination.

THE U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT Opportunity Commission(EEOC) has settled its first court action challenging the use of workplace genetic testing under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

The EEOC had sought a preliminary injunction against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) to end genetic testing of employees who filed claims for work-related injuries based on carpal tunnel syndrome.

"EEOC sought the preliminary injunction to prevent irreparable harm to employees who faced the impossible choice of potentially losing their jobs or revealing their generic makeup," says Commission Chair Ida Castro. "Our swift action in this case allows Burlington Northern employees subjected to genetic testing to continue to work free of retaliation and future invasions of privacy in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

According to EEOC officials, Burlington Northern's genetic testing program was carried out without the knowledge or consent of its employees, and at least one worker was threatened with termination for failing to submit a blood sample for a genetic test.

Under the settlement, in which BNSF admits that it tested certain employees for a genetic marker, the company agreed to not directly or indirectly require its employees to submit blood for genetic tests.
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Author:Mokhiber, Russell
Publication:Multinational Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
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