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The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to request, require, or purchase genetic information with respect to an employee. 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000ff-1(b). Section 2000ff-1(b) lists six exceptions to this general prohibition.
A mystery employee of Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services (Atlanta), LLC ("Atlas"), an operator of warehouses for the storage of products sold at a variety of grocery stores, began to habitually defecate in one of the company’s warehouses. Atlas requested some of its employees, including Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds, to submit to a cheek swab. The cheek cell samples were then sent to a lab where a technician compared the cheek cell DNA to DNA from the offending fecal matter. Lowe and Dennis were not a match. The employees subsequently filed suit under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000ff, et seq., which generally prohibited employers from requesting genetic information from its employees.
Was the information requested and obtained by Atlas “genetic information” covered by GINA?
Where an employer took cheek cell samples from two employees, which were sent to a lab where a technician compared the cheek cell DNA to DNA from fecal matter than had been found in the employer's warehouse, the employer violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000ff, et seq., because the plain language of the statute provided that employers could not request genetic information with respect to an employee, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000ff-1(b), and GINA broadly defined genetic information to include information about an individual's genetic tests, such as the tests of the two employees' DNA.