Articles Posted in GINA

Published on:

Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

When Philip Sullivan decided to apply for a warehouse job at Grisham Farm Products, Inc. (Grisham), he learned that Grisham required all applicants to complete a 3-page “Health History” as part of their employment application. This form asked applicants to respond to 43 questions concerning their medical histories, including whether they had consulted with a healthcare provider in the past 24 months or suffered from specific medical issues, such as heart conditions, depression, and sexually transmitted infections, among others.

As Mr. Sullivan has disabilities, he was worried that his answers would reveal them and thus negatively impact his chances in the hiring process; therefore, he decided not to apply for the job and instead contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC sued Grisham on his behalf, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). The ADA prohibits employers from inquiring into a person’s medical history before making a conditional offer of employment, and GINA prohibits employers from requesting genetic information from job applicants.

Published on:

Yaralyn Mena and Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services (Atlas), which operates warehouses for the storage of products sold at a variety of grocery stores, found itself in a bizarre situation after discovering human feces on the floor of one of its warehouses. Apparently, an Atlas employee had been defecating in the warehouse, resulting in the destruction of grocery products. Atlas had no idea who the “devious defecator” was, and no employees were coming forward with any information. The ongoing incidents provoked Atlas to conduct an in-house investigation. In a misguided effort to identify the perpetrator, Atlas subjected several employees, including Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds, to cheek swabs to check their DNA against that found in the feces. Atlas told Mr. Lowe and Mr. Reynolds that if they refused to be tested, they would be disciplined. Lowe and Reynolds complied; they were not matches, and the serial defecator presumably remains at large.

Lowe and Reynolds sued Atlas pursuant to the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act (GINA). Under GINA, employers cannot attain, or require employees to disclose, employee genetic information for any employment purpose, including hiring, firing, promotions, and training. Lowe and Reynolds alleged Atlas violated GINA by requiring them to take the cheek swab with the intent to extract DNA and sending that genetic information to a third party. Atlas did not inform the employees of their rights under GINA and told them not to tell other employees of the request for their DNA sample.

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