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    October 31, 2009

    U of Akron Requires DNA from Potential Employees; Feds Open Public Comment Period on Federal Law Protecting DNA

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    dna-question-mark.jpgInside Higher Ed just reported that an adjunct instructor at the University of Akron quit when he was told that he had to submit to DNA testing. “It’s not enough that the university doesn’t pay us a living wage, or
    provide us with health insurance,” the instructor said, “but now they want to sacrifice the
    sanctity of our bodies. No.” He was right to question their policy: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 specifically states:

    It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any employee, or otherwise to
    discriminate against any employee with respect to the compensation,
    terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the employee, because
    of genetic information with respect to the employee


    You can read the U of Akron’s policy regarding DNA samples and what they’re used for here. In a press release today, the ACLU blasted the University of Akron saying:

    The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 is a federal law
    that directly prohibits employers from forcing employees to turn over
    DNA samples. Section 202(b) of the law provides very few exceptions to
    this, mostly for companies that conduct DNA testing as part of their
    job.

    All of this comes at a time when the U.S. Government is focused on clarifying The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),
    the federal law protecting the privacy of personal health information.
    When the law was written in 1996, genetic information wasn’t included
    as “personal health information” (amazingly enough), and therefore wasn’t explicitly protected by the law. The new
    legislation (available here as PDF) would fix that. Among other many other things, it proposes revising the federal law in a way that:

    prohibits
    use of genetic information in the employment context, restricts
    acquisition of genetic information by employers and other entities
    covered by Title II and strictly limits such entities from disclosing genetic information.

    If
    you think the privacy of genetic information should be protected under
    HIPAA, now’s your chance to say so: The proposed legislation is
    currently open for public comment — just download the proposed legislation here, and follow the directions in the first column.

    (Photo credit here)

    6 Responses to “U of Akron Requires DNA from Potential Employees; Feds Open Public Comment Period on Federal Law Protecting DNA”

    1. rodrigo says:

      i don’t really understand why he quit either? but it might of been that he didn’t feel like getting a DNA or he might of just been tired of his job.

    2. dannal says:

      it makes perfect sense as they would have simply refused to renew his contract next semester, no firing required. He’s adjunct faculty… he has no protection, no standing, nothing.

    3. Please take a moment to sign the petition calling on The University of Akron to rescind the provision of Rule 3359-11-22 which enables the university to collect DNA samples from prospective employees. The petition was started online by Matt Williams and is available at http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/universityofakrondna/

    4. jb says:

      these academic insitutions are one arrogant enclave, politicians and medical doctors are another. Come to think of it, there are many others.
      Anyway, it would be good to know who came up with that policy. Are you sure this isn’t a joke?

    5. ST says:

      joe, it makes perfect sense as they would have simply refused to renew his contract next semester, no firing required. He’s adjunct faculty… he has no protection, no standing, nothing. They wouldn’t have to fire him as adjunct faculty are hired on a short term contract basis so once the semester was up they would simply not renew his contract and he would have absolutely no recourse whatsoever. Better that he made his point public with this resignation than disappear quietly.

    6. joe says:

      It makes no sense that he quit, since it’s illegal for them to have fired him, and he didn’t force them to try to do so.

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