Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed SB 559, the California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (CalGINA) (pdf). The legislation builds on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-233). GINA, which was signed in May 2008 by President Bush, restricts the collection and use of genetic information in a number of ways. GINA prohibits health insurance providers and employers from requiring genetic testing. Genetic data cannot be used to determine insurance premiums, eligibility for insurance, or employment.
(b) Genetic testing can allow individuals to take steps to reduce the likelihood that they will contract a particular disorder. New knowledge about genetics may allow for the development of better therapies that are more effective against disease or have fewer side effects than current treatments. These rapid advances promise significant medical progress, but also give rise to the potential for misuse of genetic information to discriminate. […]
(h) Examples of genetic discrimination in the workplace include the use of preemployment genetic screening at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, which led to a court decision in favor of the employees in that case, Norman-Bloodsaw v. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (9th Cir. 1998) 135 F.3d 1260, 1269.
(i) The State of California has a compelling public interest in realizing the medical promise of genomics. It also has a compelling public interest in relieving the fear of discrimination and in prohibiting its actual practice.
Going beyond the federal GINA, CalGINA also prohibits genetic discrimination in housing, mortgage lending, employment, health insurance coverage, life insurance coverage, education, public accommodations, and elections. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2012.