I agree that GINA is going to have a big impact on organizations that screen broadly and then expect to see all the test results. There were always some potential problems with that anyway, related to the Americans With Disabilities Act. But it’s an ill wind that blows no good.
First, religious organizations haven’t historically done well coping with people with disabilities, especially mental disabilities, never mind whether the disabilities have a genetic component or not. While I agree that these laws can be burdensome and annoying, they can also challenge us to think through our attitudes towards those who are struggling.
Next, you suggest that missions do better about defining the spiritual and physical requirements of each job, in terms of needed strength and health, godly behavior, and ability to resist stress. I agree that right now, those norms are usually not in place. That is a first step. How can you evaluate whether someone’s physical or mental condition meets the requirements of a particular job placement if it’s not defined? How can you remove or discipline someone who is a misfit if it’s not defined?
No one is saying that missions candidates cannot have a physical/mental health screening. What you can’t do is report back information about genetic profiles; that is, family history. You can use the information to work through issues with candidates or missionaries directly, and teach them whatever skills they need. You can report to the organization deficits in physical or mental health from which they are actually suffering. The key in GINA is avoiding discrimination for a prospective condition that hasn’t happened to them yet.
You already have obligations of confidentiality, and I’m sure you have many delicate decisions of what can be reported back to the mission. GINA just adds one more layer.
Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion
- The Give and Take of Religious Accommodations in the Workplace
- Fitness for Duty and Mental Health, Part 2
- Fitness for Duty and Mental Health, Part 1
- Leadership Response to Sexual Harassment Complaints: A Step-by-Step Guide to Minimizing Your Risk of Liability
- The Value of Auditing Your Organization’s Internal Processes