Personal Genetics Education Project

First GINA case resolved in court

The first case under the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA) went to court to decide whether employers can collect DNA from employees in order to resolve a situation of misconduct. As Nita Farahany describes in the Washington Post article “Test for ‘Devious Defecator’ was Unlawful, Judge Rules,” the legal issue started when a grocery warehouse company realized it had an employee who began “habitually defecating in one of its warehouses.” To solve the mystery, the company requested some of its employees submit to cheek swabbing to compare their cheek cell DNA to DNA from the “offending fecal matter” left in the warehouse. The two men whose DNA was requested in the company’s investigation sued under the GINA provision that forbids an employer from requesting or requiring employee DNA. pgEd has been following the case ever since Dr. Farahany (bioethics and legal expert, and sister of the prosecutor) spoke about it at our October 2014 Congressional briefing on GINA. Now, a federal jury has awarded the plaintiffs, Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds, $2.2 million in damages. Check out the following articles from some of our favorite sources to learn more about this landmark case:

‘Devious Defecator’ Case Tests Genetics Law
by Gina Kolata, The New York Times, May 29 2015

This Case Of A Phantom Pooper Is Hugely Important For Genetic Testing Laws
by Virginia Hughes, BuzzFeed, June 23 2015

Why the ‘devious defecator’ case is a landmark for US genetic-privacy law
by Natasha Gilbert, Nature News, June 25 2015

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