Genetic Information / GIPA Class Actions

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What is the Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA)?

Illinois’ Genetic Information Privacy Act prohibits companies from requesting their employees – and even job applicants – to disclose their genetic information.

GIPA’s main purpose is to encourage people to use genetic tests, as they may be beneficial to an individual. For example, the saliva tests used by 23andme or a BRCA gene test, which reveals whether you may be predisposed to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

But, if people don’t use genetic tests because they’re afraid that their employers will ask for that information from them in the future, then the public will not learn about their heightened risks before a disease actually develops. In order to prevent that from happening, GIPA prohibits employers from asking their employees or potential employees about their family’s medical history.

In other words, companies can ask about a person’s own medical conditions that have already developed – because there’s a chance that the condition could affect someone’s ability to perform their job duties. But the employer cannot ask about the potential or current employee’s family members medical or health history in order to try to predict whether a condition is more likely to develop in the future.

The New BIPA?

GIPA is similar to a more well-known and highly litigated privacy statute – Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act or BIPA. BIPA governs biometric information, such as fingerprints, voice recognition, and facial geometry. Thousands of BIPA lawsuits have been filed in recent years, many resulting in landmark multi-million-dollar settlements.

The legislature’s goals for GIPA and BIPA are identical because biometric and genetic information are some of the most sensitive forms of information; if this information gets into the wrong hands, the victim is essentially helpless. Unlike a credit card or telephone number, a person cannot simply change their fingerprint or family history if that information is leaked. For these reasons, in several recent cases, Illinois courts are already interpreting GIPA and BIPA in the same ways. In fact, the legislature indicated that genetic information is even more important than biometric information because successful GIPA lawsuits can seek up to three times more money than BIPA.

Why choose Siri & Glimstad?

Beginning in 2023, Siri & Glimstad was one of the first – if not THE first – to file lawsuits alleging that Illinois companies violated GIPA by asking their prospective or current employees about their family medical history. Siri & Glimstad recognized that GIPA only benefits the people of Illinois if law firms actually file lawsuits to enforce the law, but for some reason, no one had done so for 25 years. As leaders in this space, Siri & Glimstad is the clear choice!

Our Key Cases:

Henry v. SG360, Circuit Court of Cook County Case No. 2023CH09167 (Nov. 1, 2023) – in this case, the defendant is accused of unlawfully requesting genetic information by requiring employees to attend a preemployment physical; during the physical, the doctor allegedly asked about family medical history. The defendant filed a motion asking the Court to dismiss the lawsuit for failure to state a claim, but on May 10, 2024, the Court denied the motion and found the lawsuit validly stated a claim for a GIPA violation.

Branson v. Caterpillar, Inc., United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 1:23-CV-14329 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 9, 2023) – in this case, multiple plaintiffs have claimed that the defendant violated GIPA by requiring them to provide copies of medical records from outside doctors before they would be hired. Also, Caterpillar’s in-house doctors used a form that asked about family medical history as part of its benefits program.

Williams v. Peoples Gas, Circuit Court of Cook County Case No. 2023CH08058 (Sep. 11, 2023) – Peoples Gas allegedly violated GIPA by requesting family medical histories from its employees who filed workers’ compensation claims after they were injured on the job, and also during preemployment physicals. Like SG360, the defendant here also filed a motion to dismiss; the Court’s order is expected on June 20 so stay tuned.

In The News

New class action accuses Ford of improperly requiring job applicants to disclose personal, family medical information | Cook County Record

Lawsuit: Caterpillar violated IL genetic info privacy law by asking workers about family medical history | Cook County Record

Amazon, Ford Prying Into Family Medical Data Sparks Novel Suits (

Bloomberg noted that GIPA lawsuits filed by Siri & Glimstad are “breathing life into an old, rarely used Illinois privacy law, and employers are taking notice.” One employment defense attorney noted that, after Siri & Glimstad began filing GIPA cases, other firms followed in our footsteps: “Initially all of these new GIPA class action lawsuits were being filed by the same plaintiffs’ firm. And recently we’ve seen GIPA class actions filed by additional firms[.]”

Contact Us

If you live in the Illinois and were asked to disclose your family’s medical history by your employer or a doctor during a work-related medical treatment, please visit

Want to tell us about a different potential GIPA violation? We want to hear from you! Contact us now by filling out the form.

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