A Whole New Meaning to Swabbing the Poop Deck–Genetic Non-Discrimination Act Violation

Georgia storage company, Atlas Logistics Group asked employees to swab—then got sued. An employee (or possibly employees) for the company began “habitually defecating” in their Atlanta warehouse. Atlas attempted to figure out who it was, but eventually got slapped with a hefty price tag for their methods.

Atlas had some employees undergo a cheek swap so that they could compare DNA samples to that found in the excrement. The samples were sent to a laboratory where technicians worked to locate the employee in question. What the company neglected to realize, however, was that gathering an employee’s DNA for analysis violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or more fondly known as “GINA.”

Two employees, Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds, took offense to their DNA samples being tested. Though they did not match the DNA of the fecal matter around the warehouse, Lowe and Reynolds filed suit against the employers for requesting their genetic information. The company contested the facts of Lowe and Reynolds’ allegations; they argued that “genetic information” is defined as “information related to an individual’s propensity for disease.”

The court sided with the plaintiffs stating that requesting the swabs was, in fact, requesting genetic information that is protected by federal law. At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $2.25 million. $1.75 million of that total was for punitive damages.

Source: Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds v. Atlas Logistics Group; ohioemployerlawblog.com