Question:

It is my understanding that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”) will result in a change to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) poster. Could you give a brief explanation of GINA and the related posting requirements?

Answer:

You are correct in that GINA alters the EEOC posting requirements. GINA was signed into law back on May 21, 2008, but the employment provisions of the law go into effect on November 21, 2009. This new law prohibits discrimination against individuals based on genetic information.

Specifically, GINA will prohibit an employer from discriminating against an individual in the hiring, firing, compensation, terms, or privileges of employment based on the genetic information of the individual or a family member of the individual. GINA defines “family member” as the individual’s spouse, dependent child, parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent. California law already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an individual’s “medical condition”, which includes a person’s genetic characteristics. Thus, GINA, a federal law, broadens genetic discrimination protection for California employees. In addition, GINA prohibits an employer from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information about an individual or their family member, subject to certain exceptions.

In order to effectively give employees notice of their rights under GINA, employers must post information on GINA. To comply with the law, employers may post the EEOC’s November 2009 version of the “EEO is the Law” poster, or, in the alternative, post the “EEO is the law” supplement next to their current poster. Both documents are available at http://www1.eeoc.gov/employers/poster.cfm.

As a reminder, posting requirements differ based on the number of employees a company has, the company’s industry, and the type of work being performed. However, regardless of these factors, all employers must display posters concerning the following subjects:

  • Federal and state minimum wage
  • The applicable industry’s Wage Order
  • Payday information
  • Health and safety
  • Emergency contacts
  • Workers’ compensation information and the name of the carrier
  • Whistleblower protection
  • No smoking
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • Unemployment and disability insurance, and family paid leave
  • Occupational injuries
  • Voting rights
  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act

Additionally, employers with fifty or more employees must have a California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) poster visible as well as a poster regarding the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Furthermore, employers with 5-49 employees must display a pregnancy disability leave poster.

Employers must also provide eligible employees with a Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) notice, and employers using hazardous or toxic substances must display the medical and exposure records poster. Employers operating forklifts, industrial trucks, or tow tractors must have the operating rules for industrial trucks poster. Furthermore, any citation received from Cal/OSHA for a workplace safety violation must be posted at the site of the violation for at least three days, or until the unsafe condition is resolved. Specialized posters are also required for farm labor contractors, public works contractors, construction contractors, and employers with union employees.

All required postings should be conspicuously placed so that employees have an opportunity to read them. Common locations for postings include the employee lunch or break room, or other areas frequented by all employees. Employers who do not comply with the applicable posting requirements may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

Links to many of the above mentioned posters can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website
(http://www.dol.gov/osbp/sbrefa/poster/matrix.htm)
or the California Department of Industrial Relations’ website (http://www.dir.ca.gov/wpnodb.html). These workplace postings are usually available at no cost from the requiring agency. As an alternative, your business may purchase comprehensive posters that contain all of the required postings from private companies for a nominal amount.

It is good business practice to stay current on workplace posting requirements, in the event that there is a change in the law, such as that described above. In addition, your particular business may be subject to additional posting obligations not discussed above, depending on your industry and the substances and/or equipment used by your business. You can check with the Department of Labor, the Department of Industrial Relations, and Cal/OSHA to see if there are additional posting requirements that apply to your business.
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