Discriminated Against Based On Your Genetic Information? Contact a Genetic Discrimination Attorney Los Angeles
Genetic information discrimination has unfortunately become more common in the workplace when it comes to discrimination of individuals. This type of information includes things like family medical history, genetic testing, and so forth. Genetic testing is commonly sought out by individuals who believe they have a medical disorder or a higher risk of one due to their genetics.
GINA, CALGINA, and FEHA
Under both state and federal laws, discrimination on the basis of genetic testing is prohibited. The federal law regarding this issue is called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act or GINA, for short. It was introduced back in 2008, however, it's legally based around health insurance coverage and employment.
In 2012, California enacted its own law regarding discrimination based on genetic information. This is called the California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act or CALGINA for short. This law helps to encompass more specific areas of discrimination regarding housing, education, public accommodations, and mortgage lending. It has basically worked to fill in the gaps that federal GINA doesn't encompass.
CALGINA is a direct amendment to FEHA, or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. This act basically helps to protect the employment rights of individuals. It originally encompassed protected classes of national origin, physical disabilities, sexual orientation, and race. With CALGINA, it now includes genetic information.
Any Los Angeles genetic information discrimination lawyer can explain how GINA affects a person's rights in regards to genetic testing. It's become illegal to harass an individual on the basis of information found in genetic testing. Some examples of this harassment can include making derogatory or offensive remarks to an applicant or employee of a company.
This law works to handle serious issues of harassment that have transformed a work environment into an offensive or hostile one. This usually occurs when a supervisor in the workplace, a co-worker, or even a client harasses an employee based on genetic testing results. It does lack in covering isolated issues that are not extremely severe. For example, simple teasing or comments from other employees at a place of work may not be covered under this law. A genetic discrimination attorney Los Angeles can help you to better determine what types of incidents are considered severe and which ones aren't.
Retaliation Is Illegal
For those who have experienced violations of their GINA rights, they can take legal action against their offenders. GINA specifically states that employees who do file suit because of GINA violations cannot be retaliated against. This means getting demoted, further harassed, fired, or any other act of retaliation from the company, employee, or clients.
Filing A Suit
For those who have had their rights violated under GINA or CALGINA, a genetic discrimination by employer Los Angeles attorney can help. They can bring a legal suit against the individual or company. There are two routes for bringing up a legal suit and both come with their own statutes of limitation.
First, your lawyer can file a charge with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or DFEH. This is the agency that enforces FEHA within the state. It's required that an employee who had their rights violated bring the claim to the department within one year of the alleged violation. In some rarer cases, DFEH can be more lenient if the employee just found out about the unlawful act after the expiration period. Sometimes they'll extend the filing deadline by 90 or more days.
The second route your lawyer may take is to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission or EEOC. This will utilize GINA as the basis of the charge. You'll be given a period of 180 days after the violation occurred to file suit with the EEOC against the individual or entity.
The amount of compensation that you can expect will highly depend on your individual scenario. Some examples of recovered damages include compensatory, emotional distress, pain and suffering, attorney fees, and back pay. All of these categories of damages are deliverable under both FEHA (CALGINA) and GINA.
The amount that a judge can award you will be capped based on the number of employees at the firm. For entities with 15 to 100 employees, you can be awarded up to $50,000 in each punitive and compensatory damages. For firms with 101 to 200 employees, each is capped at $100,000 in damages. When it comes to businesses with 201 to 500 employees, your damages can be $200,000 each. For entities with over 500 employees, your punitive and compensatory damages will be capped at $300,000 each.
It's important to note that these caps are only applied to suits brought up under the law of GINA. For suits brought up under FEHA or CALGINA, there are no caps on either punitive or compensatory damages. It's best to talk with your lawyer to determine which route of legal action is best suited to your individual scenario.