White House Endorses Ban On Genetic Discrimination
Hiring, promotions and benefits cannot be based on a predisposition to disease
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 20) -- The White House today endorsed a proposal to ban discrimination against workers based on their genetic makeup.
"The fear of genetic discrimination is prompting Americans to avoid genetic tests that could literally save their lives," Vice President Al Gore said during a speech to the Genome Action Coalition. "But genetic progress should not become a new excuse for discrimination. Genetic discrimination is wrong, and it's time that we end it.
The legislation that Gore called for would prohibit employers from requesting or requiring genetic tests or genetic information as a condition of hiring or for determining what benefits a person could receive. Employers could not use genetic information to limit job opportunities.
The ban would also protect workers by requiring their explicit permission to disclose results gathered from genetic tests.
Genetic discrimination, a non-issue just a few years ago, has moved to the forefront in the realm of hiring practices as advances in genetic testing have shown some people to be predisposed to such illnesses as breast cancer or Huntington's disease.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Gore worked to promote genetic research and protect Americans against genetic discrimination.
As early as 1982, he held hearings in Congress on genetic discrimination in the workplace.
The proposal may be wrapped in with a bill, endorsed by President Bill Clinton last July, to ban genetic discrimination in health insurance coverage to those who are self-employed or purchase medical coverage on their own.