Conn. Woman Alleges Genetic Discrimination at Work

April 28, 2010 – In The News
The Boston Herald

Catherine Barbieri commented on a case involving a woman who alleged her employer eliminated her job after learning she carried a gene implicated in breast cancer.

Barbieri, who focuses her practice in anti-discrimination employment law, said although she could not rule out the possibility of similar complaints elsewhere, the Connecticut case is the first she’s heard about nationwide that cites the genetic tests law.

Barbieri said she advises employers to keep medical and personnel records separate to avoid the potential for such conflicts, and not to request in-depth explanations when an employee seeks medical leave. She advises workers to use discretion in order to avoid misunderstandings and potential discrimination claims or lawsuits.

“Unfortunately, I think in today’s day and age people have started sharing a lot more personal information about themselves, whether it’s in social media or in the workplace, but I think it may behoove people to keep some of that information closer to the vest,” Barbieri said. “I’m not suggesting employers are necessarily going to act on that, but really there may be no need for them to know.”