SHRM Secures Key Provisions in Genetic Nondiscrimination Legislation

For Immediate Release

Apr 26, 2007
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(Alexandria, Va., April 26, 2007)—The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) helped earn approval of several improvements to H.R. 493, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 (GINA), which the U.S. House of Representatives passed yesterday. These new provisions will appropriately narrow the scope of the bill and improve the law's impact on employees and employers. However, SHRM remains concerned with a number of other aspects of the legislation.

H.R. 493 would prohibit discrimination in health insurance and employment matters on the basis of an individual's genetic history. SHRM, a member of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination in Employment (GINE) Coalition, staunchly supports genetic nondiscrimination and worked closely with legislators as it progressed through the House.

"SHRM believes employees should be judged on their performance, not on their family history of genetic disorders," said SHRM President and CEO Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR. "We will continue to work with the Congress and the Administration to prohibit genetic discrimination and balance the needs of both employees and their employers."

Specifically, SHRM worked to ensure the bill's proposal to regulate genetic information and testing was consistent with requirements for regulating health information under the Americans with Disabilities Act. SHRM also recommended limiting the bill's overly broad definition of "family member" to any individual related by blood within four generations. Finally, the House-passed bill excluded any semblance of a federal mandate that would require that employers offer health plans covering all treatments for genetic related conditions.

However, SHRM has raised concerns about several aspects of the version of H.R. 493 that passed the House. For instance, the bill will prevent employers from making business decisions about unintended consequences under H.R. 493, such as barring employers from making inquiries necessary to protect public health. Thus, SHRM believes the House-passed bill includes some provisions that would create significant implementation problems for HR professionals. SHRM and the GINE Coalition will work to correct these issues in the Senate or through final legislation.

SHRM commends the Committees on Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means for the improvements made to H.R. 493. SHRM is eager to work with both Houses to make the legislation more effective and equitable for all parties.

SHRM, as part of the GINE Coalition, submitted its recommendations to strengthen the legislation in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on April 10, 2007. The full text of SHRM's letter can be found at www.shrm.org/government.

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