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Genetic Discrimination and Workers Comp – What to Do If Your Employer Discriminates Based On Genetic History

There are many areas of the law that have been complicated by the advances of science. Examples include the ways that the use of cell phones have impacted driving safety laws, and where embryos that have been frozen in laboratories have become the subject of complex family law litigation. Modern science has also added a layer of complexity to many workers’ compensation cases, as employers have attempted to use an injured or disabled worker’s genetic history against them to dispute a workplace injury claim. The federal government has passed specific laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment, guaranteeing employees that they can not be discriminated against or robbed of any employment benefits based on their genetic information, but this has not stopped employers and their insurance companies from attempting to deny workers’ compensation claims. If you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits based upon a family history, you need a knowledgeable and experienced workers’ compensation attorney to defend your rights. The attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can help.

There are a number of conditions that have been linked to specific genes, but there is a very big difference between a genetic characteristic being a risk factor and it being a direct cause of a specific condition or illness. Though there are certain genes that are tied directly to certain diseases, that is not the same as a risk factor, which is simply something that increases a statistical probability. Risk factors do not cause impairment. From the standpoint of being refused workers’ compensation, employers and their insurance companies have attempted to deny claims for such injuries as onsite heart attacks or strokes, claiming that they were caused by a genetic propensity towards high cholesterol, or that an alcohol dependency or addiction might have been caused by an inherited tendency. In some cases, they may ask an injured worker to provide disclosure of family history or genetic information in order to support their denial of a claim.

Of particular concern in the state of Pennsylvania is the fact that when a worker seeks to claim that an illness such as cancer or a lung disease is caused by occupational exposure, they are required to provide proof that the workplace exposure is more likely to have been the cause of their condition than any and all other possible causes, and genes can work against them. Add to that the requirement that a claim has to be filed within a limited amount of time of a hazardous exposure, and these claims can become even more difficult to prove.

When you have suffered a workplace injury and fear that a family history or genetic information may work against your workers’ compensation claim or appeal, you need to make sure that you have a knowledgeable, experienced and passionate attorney representing you. Call the attorneys at Vanasse Law today. We will fight for your rights to compensation.

Learn more about Workers’ Compensation HERE.