Two Georgia warehouse workers recently made history as plaintiffs in what is believed to be the first case to go to trial under the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Dubbed “the mystery of the devious defecator” by U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg, the case revolved around the illegal testing of two employees after human feces was located on the warehouse floor. The federal jury was on the plaintiffs’ side and the two men found that sh*t work paid $2.2M.
It all started when Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services discovered someone had participated, several times, in “illegal dumping” on the warehouse floor. According to Dion Kohler, Atlas’ lawyer, the company made diligent efforts to act reasonably in the face of a crisis facing its business and to comply with this relatively new and unique law.”
How did GINA come into play?
In 2012, Atlas told plaintiffs Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds that they had to provide cheek swab DNA samples that would be used to determine if either was the “devious defecator.” Both men complied, but the test results showed neither of them was the culprit. The men later sued Atlas for a GINA violation. GINA states that employers can’t use genetic information in decision-making when it comes to firing, hiring, promotions or health insurance coverage. One assumes that, had the results shown either man to be the source of the feces, that man would have been terminated.
Judge Totenberg said “No” to Atlas’ assertion that GINA covers the use of genetic information to find a worker’s propensity for disease and the case went to trial. The Atlanta jury found in favor of Lowe and Reynolds, stating that Atlas should pay $2.2M to the men to cover their pain, suffering and mental anguish. One assumes Atlas must not have kept quiet about the possibility that either man was the devious defecator and the men must have endured some torment, good-natured or not, from fellow employees.
Kohler stated that the $2.2M is likely going to be reduced to $600,000, the maximum allowed under GINA. No decision has been made regarding an appeal as yet.
It just goes to show that sh*t work sometimes pays.