Discrimination Based On Genetic Information Prohibited (SB 559)

Blog Post by David Swedelson and Sandra Gottlieb, Senior Partners at SwedelsonGottlieb; Condo Lawyers and HOA Attorneys

SB 559 goes into effect on January 1, 2012 and expands the prohibited bases of discrimination under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to include genetic information.

“Genetic information” is broadly defined, and includes information relating to an individual employee’s genetic tests, the genetic tests of the employee’s family members, and the manifestation of a disease or disorder in the employee’s family members. Under the new law, discrimination in hiring or employment based on any of these characteristics would be considered a violation of law.

So, for example, you learn that a potential employee’s family has Tay-Sachs or Sickle-cell disease (and the list is long), not selecting for hire that candidate on the basis of their genetic propensity to have that disease could lead to a lawsuit for discrimination. Now more than ever it is important for Board members and Community Managers to carefully document interviewee files as to the interview, the process and why someone was not hired. Only by carefully documenting the interview and hiring process can you defend a frivolous claim or lawsuit later. Be careful out there.

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