On July 6, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced it has entered into a conciliation agreement with a Florida-based medical practice for violations of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) arising out of the practice’s collection of employees’ family members’ COVID-19 testing results.

In a press release announcing the agreement, the EEOC stated that, following an investigation, it found that the medical practice – Brandon Dermatology – violated GINA by requesting the test results of employees’ family members and that “[s]uch conduct violates the GINA, which prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information about applicants or employees and their family members, except in very narrow circumstances which do not apply in this matter.”  GINA defines “genetic information” to include “the manifestation of a disease or disorder in an employee’s family members.”

While the press release includes limited details on the matter, the EEOC noted that “[i]n addition to compensating affected employees through restoration of leave time or back pay, as well as compensatory damages, the conciliation agreement resolving the charge requires Brandon Dermatology to review its COVID-19 policies; conduct training on EEO laws as they pertain to COVID-19; and post a notice.”

In its technical assistance guidance relating to COVID-19, the EEOC states that GINA “prohibits employers from asking employees medical questions about family members” including asking an employee who is physically coming into the workplace whether they have family members who have COVID-19 or symptoms associated with COVID-19.  However, the guidance goes on to state that “GINA . . . 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.”  It also notes that “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.”

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Laura Fant Laura Fant

As a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group, Laura Fant frequently counsels on a wide variety of employment matters, including employee leave and accommodation matters involving…

As a special employment law counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-administrative leader of the Counseling, Training & Pay Equity Practice Group, Laura Fant frequently counsels on a wide variety of employment matters, including employee leave and accommodation matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and related state and local laws. She also regularly drafts and advises on implementation and enforcement of employment and separation agreements, employee handbooks and company policies, as well as provides training on topics such as discrimination and harassment in the workplace, performance management, and the accommodation of physical and mental disabilities. Laura is a frequent contributor to Proskauer’s Law and the Workplace blog.

Before joining the Firm, Laura was assistant general counsel to the City of New York’s Office of Labor Relations. Prior to that, she was law clerk to Judge Jose L. Fuentes of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, and a judicial intern to Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.