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Exceptions to Acquiring Genetic Information

Reference Number: MTAS-1941
Reviewed Date: 02/06/2023

It is generally unlawful for a covered entity to get genetic information. There are six exceptions to the law:

  1. Inadvertent acquisitions do not violate GINA. This includes circumstances where a manager or supervisor overhears someone talking about an individual or family member’s illness.
  2. Obtaining genetic information as part of health services such as wellness programs offered on a voluntary basis, if certain requirements are met.
  3. Family medical history acquired in the course of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) administration or similar leave statutes pursuant to employer policy. However, the employer may not disclose the information.
  4. Genetic information acquired through commercially and publicly available resources such as newspapers and the internet as long as the employer is not seeking the information out or pursuing sources from which they are likely to acquire genetic information.
  5. Genetic information may be acquired through a genetic monitoring program that monitors the biological effects of harmful substances in the workplace where monitoring is required by law or, under carefully defi ned conditions where the program is voluntary.
  6. Genetic information may be acquired by employers who engage in DNA testing for public safety purposes or as a forensic lab for purposes of human remains identification, but the genetic information may only be used for analysis of DNA markers for quality control to detect sample contamination (i.e., police departments, FBI etc.).