Jury Flushes Employer's Misguided Poop Investigation
(Photo: CC0 1.0 Public Domain)
A federal jury in Atlanta has awarded $2.2 million dollars to two workers for their employer's violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA"). The employer, which was trying to determine who was defecating in its warehouses, asked certain employees for a cheek swab to compare DNA samples to the fecal matter. Two employees sued claiming this violated their rights under GINA. In May, the federal judge overseeing the case ruled that the employer's actions violated GINA and set the case for trial. This week, the jury entered a verdict for the employees - $475,000 in compensatory damages, and $1.75 million in punitive damages. Given that GINA claims are subject to damage caps under federal law, the award will likely be reduced to $600,000. But even with the reduction, this will have been a tough lesson for the employer and a good reminder to tread carefully in conducting workplace investigations!