Suspected ‘devious defecator’ sues Atlanta employer

From "The Bathrooms of Atlanta" series by Steve Walker.

From “The Bathrooms of Atlanta” series by Steve Walker.

Some people have to put up with a lot of BS at work.

But for employees at Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services in East Point it was literally human feces.

After piles of excrement were regularly discovered in a grocery warehouse, a trucking company tried to flush out the culprit by forcing employees to submit genetic samples.

Two workers the company suspected of behaving like bears in the woods submitted cheek swabs. DNA tests proved neither man was responsible.

The men, who said they were mocked by co-workers and humiliated by the experience, sued.

They won. A jury trial will soon determine damages.

Atlas lawyers argued it was OK to ask for the workers’ DNA samples as long as “analyses do not reveal an individual’s propensity for disease.”

But the ruling by Atlanta federal judge Amy Totenberg said the company violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which says an employer may not “request . . . genetic information with respect to an employee.”

“A genetic test is a genetic test is a genetic test” said Totenberg in the ruling.

In The New York Times, Georgetown law professor Lawrence O. Gostin said, “It’s really a bizarre case. But beyond the comical, it touches on some quite serious issues.”

The concern, the NYT posits, is that employers could allegedly request DNA for benign purposes, such as figuring out who defecated on the floor of a warehouse containing food, but later use the information for more nefarious reasons — such as determining which employees have a greater likelihood of suffering from heart disease or other expensive-to-treat medical conditions.

Unlike a Nancy Drew mystery, the case of the “devious defecator” was never solved.

 

 


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