Genetic discrimination: The use of genetically based diagnostic and prognostic tests by employers and insurers

L. Gostin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Genetic dicrimination is detrimental to public health programs, as well as to society generally. Advances in genetic testing and screening, accelerated and prompted by the Human Genome Initiative, increase society's ability to detect and monitor chromosomal differences. These technologies and their resulting genomic data will enhance medical science, but may also encourage discrimination. Although few employers or insurers currently utilize genetic screening, testing or data, rising employee benefit costs and market forces create powerful incentives for usage. Current municipal, state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), may not sufficiently protect employees and insureds from genetic discrimination. While municipal and state protections should not be overlooked, the ADA's sweeping scope may currently provide the most comprehensive safeguard. Federal laws banning discrimination on the basis of race or sex might also successfully redress some forms of general discrimination. Genetic technologies' advent necessitates efforts to rectify state and federal statutory coverage gaps, strictly regulate employers and produce comprehensive guidelines regarding its use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-144
Number of pages36
JournalAmerican Journal of Law and Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Law

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