I’m Glad That My Mother Was Wrong About Employee Discrimination

Alexus Jones avatar

by Alexus Jones |

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My mother is right about pretty much everything, so much so that I sometimes think that she can see into the future.

So, whenever she is wrong, I feel the urge to take out my phone and record her admitting her mistake. Those occasions are so rare that I must treasure them for as long as I can. An opportunity to relish one of these golden moments arose recently.

Almost a year ago, I was searching for a job. During the final round of interviews for my current role in life science consulting, I was asked about the developments in healthcare that I am most excited about. I responded that I was following the progress in Huntington’s disease research because the condition runs in my family. It was a logical answer, so unremarkable to me that I didn’t even mention it in my post-interview analysis with my parents.

Earlier this summer, my father — who writes the column “A Family Tradition” — received an email that BioNews Services was looking for a new columnist. He asked my mother if anyone in our family might be interested in the opportunity. I replied that I was. My father recounts in one of his columns that he thought I was joking. (A side note, I inherited my sense of humor from my mother.) But I was completely serious. They asked if I would be OK with my employer finding out about my gene-positive status. That’s when I told them that I had brought it up in my interview. My parents were shocked.

Until relatively recently, my mother had worried about losing her job because of Huntington’s. Her fear was passed on from my grandfather, who had kept his status secret. Apparently, she had warned me not to reveal this information to my employer because she was scared that I would face discrimination.

While that fear was reasonable when my grandfather and mother were searching for work, recent legislation has changed the recruitment landscape. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was passed in 2009, making it illegal for companies with 15 or more employees to discriminate based on genetic information. So, now that employees have this protection, my mother was wrong.

I believe that bringing up the disease may have helped me in my interview as it gave me an association with biology. That relationship may have tipped the balance in my favor given that I am a mechanical engineer with no connection to biology, unlike most of my colleagues.

I feel lucky to be living at a time when I don’t have to worry about being fired because of my genetic status. That is why with many workers’ rights under attack, we should be paying close attention to politics. I don’t want policy to revert to the old days. Thanks to these recent advances, I can be glad that, for once, my mother was wrong.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


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