Jury: Company That Collected Workers’ DNA To Solve Fecal Matter Mystery On The Hook For $2.2M

Add this one to the list of things your employer cannot subject you to on the job: A federal jury recently awarded two warehouse workers in Georgia $2.2 million, after a judge ruled that their bosses illegally collected their DNA. But why would your employer want to get hold of your DNA? In this case, management was trying to bust a mysterious pooper who was leaving piles of feces in the company’s warehouses.

The defendants in this case operate warehouses for several grocery stores, buildings which were repeatedly visited by a poop bandit back in 2012, reports Courthouse News.

Determined to get to the bottom of the fecal matter, the company requested that several of its workers, including the two plaintiffs in this case, submit to cheek swabs. The samples were then sent to a lab for technicians to compare the DNA samples with DNA taken from the piles of poop found in the warehouses.

Alas, the mystery remained unsolved afterward, and two of the workers sued the company [PDF] under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which says that in most cases, it’s “an unlawful employment practice for an employer to request, require, or purchase genetic information with respect to an employee or a family member of the employee,” except under certain conditions that did not apply here.

A U.S. District Judge rejected the company’s motion for summary dismissal of the workers’ claims in May, concluding that it had violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act when it collected DNA samples from the plaintiffs.

A jury awarded the two men $2.2 million, but alas, the Act has a $600,000 cap on punitive damages.

An attorney for the company told Courthouse News after the damages verdict was announced that “absolutely no genetic code information” had been obtained from the plaintiffs, adding that he and his client believed the award “very high based on the very little evidence they put forward of emotional injury.”

He says his client is now weighing its options.

Poop Inquiry Winds Up Costing Firm $2.2M [Courthouse News]