Target: Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Goal: Stop mandatory genetic testing and the invasion of employee privacy in the workplace.
Congressional Republicans want to give your employer the right to force you to undergo mandatory genetic testing, and possibly hand over other private health information. It may sound like something out of a dystopian sci-fi flick, but a House committee has already approved the obscure piece of proposed legislation HR 1313, which would allow employers to impose tough penalties on workers who refuse to submit to genetic tests.
With some exceptions, existing laws largely guarantee the right to privacy of workers and their health records, and protect them from discrimination based on health issues, disabilities and genetic anomalies. HR 1313 would effectively strip workers nationwide of these basic rights, according to Jennifer Mathis, the director of legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
“What this bill would do is completely take away the protections of existing laws,” Mathis told STAT news.
Defenders of the bill have argued it doesn’t directly run afoul of existing privacy protections – which is true. Instead, this bill takes advantage of a loophole in existing legislation that allows employees to ask their workers to undergo health checks if they voluntarily sign up to a workplace wellness program. The kicker is that HR 1313 would allow employees to penalize workers who don’t sign up to these programs. Under the bill, employees would be able to impose penalties of up to 30 percent of the overall cost of the employee’s health insurance. In other words, you’d be free to keep your health records private, as long as you don’t mind paying thousands of dollars for the privilege.
Sign this petition, and send a message to Congress: privacy isn’t a privilege, it’s a basic human right.
Dear Speaker Ryan,
Our right to keep our health records private is at risk due to a bill currently before Congress. The bill, HR 1313, could effectively force employees to submit to health checks at work, and hand over potentially sensitive private information.
Already, 70 health and consumer advocate organizations have expressed opposition to the bill, including the AARP, American Academy of Pediatrics and National Women’s Law Center. All of these organizations say HR 1313 opens the door to workplace discrimination based on health issues; issues that may have nothing to do with the ability of an employee to do their job.
Privacy is a basic human right, and employers should not be allowed to force workers to undergo invasive, potentially discriminatory health checks. It undermines everything our country was built on.
We demand you do everything in your power to defend our right to privacy, and ensure HR 1313 is never passed into law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Erlend Bjørtvedt