On Friday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a final rule which mandates that employers retain workplace records so that the agency is able to ensure compliance with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act’s (GINA) prohibition of employment discrimination based on a worker’s genetic information.  GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, restricts acquisition of genetic information by employers and other entities covered by Title II, strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information, and prohibits retaliation against employees who complain about genetic discrimination.  

The EEOC already requires employers to retain workplace records to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The EEOC requires workplace records to be maintained for one year following the termination of an employee (see summary of EEOC rules).  The EEOC’s new rule which goes into effect April 3, 2012, will require no additional document retention efforts for employers as employers should already be maintaining personnel and employment records for a year following an employee’s departure.  Employers should ensure that any separate medical or confidential files which could contain genetic information on an employee are maintained for a year following termination. 

Employers should also note that other laws can require other employment information be maintained for longer periods of time.