DNA RIGHTS

” A new policy at the Universiy of Akron has spurred controversy around the nation and has some questioning its legality. UA now reserves the right to require DNA testing from potential employees as part of their criminal background check policy, which was implemented in August.”

A new policy at the Universiy of Akron has spurred controversy around the nation and has some questioning its legality.

UA now reserves the right to require DNA testing from potential employees as part of their criminal background check policy, which was implemented in August.

Patricia Millhoff, assistant professor of criminal justice technology, said that she believes it violates federal laws.

I don’t understand what the university would do with DNA. That’s the bigger question to me, she said.

William Rich, a law professor at UA, said that the Faculty Senate was not consulted about the policy.

It wasn’t until just now that I became aware of it, he said Wednesday evening.

Having now read the policy, I think it goes far beyond any imaginable justification for requiring DNA samples from job applicants, and I wonder what the rationale for it was.

He described a university regulation that allows the university administration complete discretion to require DNA samples from any job applicant as too broad.

Laura Massie, director of media relations, said that the university has not yet decided what would prompt a potential employee to be required to take a DNA test.

We’re just so far away from any implementation of it that we just don’t know yet, Massie said.

According to Massie, the university also has yet to decide how it will do DNA testing, but has not tested anyone yet and does not plan to do so in the future.

Diana Vickers, director of marketing and communication at the UA School of Law, said she felt she was not in the correct position to talk about the subject.

Michael Brickner, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that he feels the policy is blatantly illegal and violates federal laws, such as the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Americans with Disability Act.

GINA, which prohibits employers from collecting genetic information from employees and making employment decisions based on it, was signed into law May 21, 2008.

We want to come out and just say, ‘this is illegal,’ he said.

Brickner explained that even though the university has not done any DNA testing, leaving the policy on the books is an open window for other universities to use the same policy.

Bad ideas travel quickly, he said.

Brickner said that ACLU is focusing on convincing the university to get rid of the policy immediately.

Although the health insurance provisions of GINA went into effect earlier this year, the final provision, which is the employee section, does not go into effect until Nov. 21.

Brickner said there has been some confusion surrounding GINA because part of has not gone through yet.

He said that if the policy isn’t considered illegal by some people now, it will be obviously illegal by Nov. 21.

We were extremely surprised by this policy at UA, he said.

This isn’t just someone’s social security number or drivers license. It’s the most personal information a person has and it could get into the wrong hand, he explained.

Massie described it as a very small clause.

The only reason the university has included this in the criminal background check policy is because the university feels that in the future, that’s the way technology is going, Massie said.

The university wants to be on the beating edge. It wants to be prepared.