The California State Assembly recently passed a civil rights measure protecting individuals from discrimination based on genetic information.
Senate Bill 559, introduced by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, extends protections guaranteed under the federal Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act. GINA protects against genetic discrimination in the areas of employment and health insurance coverage, while Padilla's legislation includes housing, education, public accommodations, life insurance, mortgage lending and elections.
Padilla said the law, if signed by Governor Jerry Brown, will not stifle genome research, but will protect Californians from being treated unfairly due to their genetic makeup.
The Assembly passed Padilla's bill days after the state legislature approved a non-discrimination measure related to language rights. Senate Bill 111, introduced by Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat from San Francisco, guarantees that patrons of businesses cannot be denied service based on the language they speak.
Governor Brown now has 12 days to sign or veto Yee's bill. A similar measure was vetoed by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009.
National Conference of State Legislators statistics show 35 states have passed laws prohibiting employers from using genetic information to make hiring and firing decisions.