Ford’s Request of Employee Family Medical Histories Violates Illinois Law, Class Action Alleges
Page et al. v. Ford Motor Company
Filed: January 27, 2023 ◆§ 2023CH00878
A class action alleges Ford Motor Company unlawfully asks applicants and employees to provide their family medical histories and then uses this information to make employment decisions.
A proposed class action alleges Ford Motor Company asks applicants and employees to provide their family medical histories and then uses this information to make employment decisions in violation of Illinois’ genetic privacy law.
The 16-page case more specifically claims Ford has run afoul of the Illinois Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA), a state law designed to protect residents from being discriminated against based on their genetic information, including their family medical history. The filing explains that the GIPA prohibits employers from directly or indirectly requesting or using genetic information as a condition of employment or as part of their hiring processes.
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The three plaintiffs, who worked or applied for positions at Ford’s Chicago assembly plant, claim that during the hiring process, the company’s in-house medical provider asked them to disclose their family medical histories as part of a required pre-employment physical.
The lawsuit alleges Ford uses this information to evaluate “the risk that the individual may have inherited genetic conditions from family members, and then improperly uses that information when making its hiring decisions and staffing assignments.”
According to the complaint, Ford obtains employees’ or prospective employees’ family medical histories to reduce its chances of being liable for workplace injuries or death caused by genetic conditions. For example, Ford’s hiring decision may be influenced if it learns that an individual is predisposed to a condition that could be exacerbated by high-stress or physically demanding work conditions, such as hypertension, cancer, heart conditions, diabetes or stroke, the suit argues.
The case charges that Ford’s alleged abuse of genetic information segregates individuals in a manner that deprives them of employment opportunities, which is explicitly prohibited under the GIPA.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone who, within the past five years, applied for employment with or was employed by Ford Motor Company in Illinois and had their genetic information, including family medical history, requested and/or obtained by the company or an agent acting on its behalf in connection with their application for employment or their employment with Ford.
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