A creepy new bill that just passed a house committee vote would allow employers to require genetic samples from their workers.
Your employer could demand detailed information about your genes, and even discriminate against you in certain circumstances, if H.R. 1313 gets passed.
Privacy of your genetic information has been the law for almost a decade. Current law mandates that genetic information cannot be obtained by an employer unless the employee voluntarily gives it up. Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, also known as GINA, businesses cannot discriminate against current employees or make hiring decisions on future ones on the basis of their genetic makeup. They’re also forbidden “from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information” of their current or potential future workers.
But a bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill is hoping to change that. Employers would be allowed under H.R. 1313 to require genetic information from workers if they are part of “workplace wellness” programs.
The bill quietly passed a vote on Wednesday in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, according to STAT. All 22 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while all 17 Democrats opposed it.
The bill would also allow employers to penalize their workers financially, thousands of dollars per year, if they refuse to submit their genes to the company in a workplace wellness examination.
The proposed bill “opens the door for unscrupulous employers to misuse the information provided to them through workplace wellness programs and exposes employees to illegal discrimination,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).
H.R. 1313 now awaits a full vote in the House. Should the bill pass the House and Senate and make it to Donald Trump’s desk, it’s likely he would sign it, given his past statements about his belief in eugenics — a theory that people of certain genetic backgrounds are superior to others.
Chris Walker has been writing about political issues for the past decade, including for sites such as Elite Daily, AMERICAblog, and Mic. You can follow him on Twitter @thatchriswalker.