The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld an employer’s wellness program against a challenge brought under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA is the 2008 federal law that among other things prohibits employers from acquiring, or using for discriminatory purposes, genetic information about applicants, employees, or their families.
At issue in Ortiz v. City of San Antonio Fire Department, No. 15-50341 (5th Cir. Nov. 18, 2015), was whether the fire department violated GINA by requiring the plaintiff to participate in a wellness program that included a complete physical examination, a stress test, and other medical tests. In affirming a federal trial court ruling, the appeals court concluded that even though the department’s wellness program was not voluntary, it did not violate GINA because the program did not request or require genetic information.
Given the fact that there is little GINA case law to date, the Fifth Circuit’s ruling provides some helpful guidance as to how the courts that have yet to address the issue are likely to analyze GINA challenges to employer practices.
A copy of the Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Ortiz is available online A HREF=”http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/15/15-50341.CV0.pdf” TARGET=”BLANK”> here.