The California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (CalGINA) Q and A

What is CalGINA and what does it do?

The California Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (CalGINA) is a California state law that adds “genetic information” to the existing list of protected classes that are found in the following areas of California law:

  • Unruh Civil Rights Act
    • Public accommodations
  • California Fair Employment and Housing Act
    • Employment
    • Housing
    • Mortgage Lending
  • Health & Safety code
  • Insurance code
  • Education code
  • Penal code
  • Elections code
  • Welfare and Institutions code

What is genetic information?

The genetic information protected by the law includes family health history, the results of genetic tests, the use of genetic counseling and other genetic services, and participation in genetic research.

How does CalGina differ from federal law?

Unlike the federal GINA, which provides privacy and non-discrimination protection in the areas of employment and health insurance, CalGINA extends privacy and non-discrimination protection to additional areas, including the following:

  • Receipt of emergency medical services and care;
  • Recording and enforcement of restrictive covenants affecting interests in real property, including sales and rentals (fair housing);
  • Receipt of services, access to facilities, accommodations, and privileges “in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever” (business and professions);
  • Distribution of alcoholic club licenses;
  • Provision of financial assistance for purchase or construction of housing (mortgage-lending); and
  • Participation of any state-funded or state-administered activity or programs.

Additionally, CalGINA amends the Education Code to require public schools, particularly high schools, to have access to additional resources and to include programs designed to prevent hate violence. Ultimately, CalGINA amends the Business and Professions Code, the Education Code, the Elections Code, the Government Code, the Penal Code, the Revenue and Taxation Code, and the Welfare and Institutions Code.

CalGINA also increases the available remedies for a violation since it allows for recovery of unlimited monetary damages whereas the federal GINA has limitations on damage recovery.