Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Epstein on Genetic Testing

Richard A. Epstein James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, Faculty Director for Curriculum, and Director, Law and Economics Program, University of Chicago Law School, has written on the faculty blog an article entitled Two Cheers for Genetic Testing. He argues that is is within the rights of an employer to rely on or engage in genetic testing to decide whether to make an offer to a potential employee, and what kind of offer to make if he decides to go ahead. Earlier he had argued that in competitive markets, employers should be allowed to ask any question that they choose, no matter how irrelevant, and employees should be allowed to decline to answer any question, no matter how germane.

I can certainly sympathize with the concern of buisness not to get into a situation [& this is related more particularly to the USA where the cost of health care is born more by the employer than the state] which may lead to prohibitive health care costs. However, it is a very short step from this type of genetic testing [determinitive] to predictive genetic testings. And so if you you are predisposed to breast cancer or huntington's disease we will not hire you. This very rapidly becomes discrimination. Yes, I know that there are physical limitation, that eliminate people for certain jobs - i.e. my friend Niki who is blind, will never be an airline pilot. But Epstein's arguments go far beyond this.

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