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Thursday, August 4, 2022

Employer Asking About Family Members' COVID Test Results Is Illegal

EEOC recently settled a case where an employer was deemed to have violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act by collecting COVID testing data about employee family members. If your employer is making you provide information about your family's COVID test results, they may be breaking the law.

So what does COVID testing have to do with genetic information? EEOC provided some guidance on What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. They provide this information:

May an employer ask an employee who is physically coming into the workplace whether they have family members who have COVID-19 or symptoms associated with COVID-19?

No. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from asking employees medical questions about family members. GINA, however, does not prohibit an employer from asking employees whether they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who may have symptoms associated with the disease. Moreover, from a public health perspective, only asking about an employee’s contact with family members would unnecessarily limit the information obtained about an employee’s potential exposure to COVID-19.

GINA generally protects employees from discrimination relating to their family medical histories, so asking for family medical information is a big no-no.

In sum, your employer can ask you if you have had contact with anyone who has COVID or COVID symptoms. They cannot specifically demand your family member's test results or whether family members have COVID or COVID symptoms. 

If you think your employer is violating GINA, contact an employee-side employment attorney in your state about your rights.

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I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.