American Journal of Law & Medicine

United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Finds Employer Liable for Violation of Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA") in the Case of the "Devious Defecator"-Lowe V. Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, LLC

United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Finds Employer Liable for Violation of Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA") in the Case of the "Devious Defecator" - Lowe v. Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, LLC (1)--On May 5, 2015, the Honorable Amy Totenberg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia partially granted Plaintiffs Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynold's motion for summary judgment finding Defendant Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, LLC's request for genetic information from the Plaintiffs to be a violation of GINA. (2) In so holding, the court found that the definition of "genetic information" within GINA includes a buccal swab test administered by employers to match unidentified genetic material to its employees. (3) On June 22, 2015, a jury awarded plaintiffs $2,225 million in damages. (4) Lowe v. Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, LLC is the first case to find a defendant liable for a GINA violation and the first jury award under GINA's private right of action. (5)

In 2012, Atlas Logistics, a transportation and storage servicer for the grocery industry, began an internal investigation after numerous instances of human feces were found in one of its warehouse facilities. (6) Atlas's Loss Prevention Manager narrowed down the list of possible suspects by "comparing employee work schedules to the timing and location" of the feces. (7) Plaintiffs Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds were among those considered as possible defecators, and both consented to buccal swab tests. (8) After collecting DNA samples from the Plaintiffs' mouths, Atlas contracted a forensic laboratory to compare the Plaintiffs' DNA to a fecal sample found in the warehouse. (9) The Plaintiffs agree that Atlas did not possess the intent nor the ability to "(1) uncover information about an individual's propensity to develop a disease in the future, (2) discover whether an individual's offspring has a genetic mutation that would result in a health condition with physical manifestations, or (3) collect or analyze medical information" with the genetic test used. …

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