Genetic testing in the workplace: ethical, legal, and social implications

Annu Rev Public Health. 2004;25:139-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.25.101802.123012.


With the completion of the Human Genome Project, it is likely that genetic testing for susceptibility to a wide range of diseases will increase in society. One venue for such increased testing is likely to be the workplace as employers attempt to protect workers from unhealthy gene-environment interactions, improve productivity, and control escalating health care costs. Past and recent examples of genetic testing in the workplace raise serious concerns that such testing could pose a significant threat to workers' privacy, autonomy, and dignity. Thus, defining the ethically, legally, and socially appropriate and inappropriate uses of genetic testing in the workplace presents a major challenge for occupational health professionals in the years ahead.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Privacy / ethics
  • Genetic Privacy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Genetic Testing / ethics*
  • Genetic Testing / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Management
  • Workplace*