President signs Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

On May 21, 2008, President Bush signed a bill protecting personal genetic information from misuse by employers and insurance companies.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers from using genetic information when making decisions concerning hiring, firing, job placement or promotion. GINA protects job-seekers and employees covered by Title VII and some federal government employees. The new law also makes it illegal for group health plans and health insurers to deny coverage or charge higher premiums based solely on a genetic predisposition to a disease.

The law also included provisions that alter civil penalties for child labor violations. Penalties for violations have increased to a potential $11,000 and a $50,000 penalty may now be assessed for each violation that causes death or serious injury to any employee under the age of 18 years. This penalty may be doubled where the violation is a repeated or willful violation.