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Paul Zimmerman

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Dmytro Zinkevych ©

2015 Mid-Year Employment Law (A)musings

Employment law never ceases to amaze. In a short period of time, we came across several articles about claims and court determinations that seemed to stretch even the wildest imaginations. Each provides a cautionary tale:

  • The 1st case below illustrates the importance of making sure you know the law before acting.
  • The 2nd presents facts which should scare even the most indiscreet person into being careful of verbal communications, even when it seems the conversation is private.
  • The 3rd example below is merely in the allegation stage, but highlights the importance of maintaining the integrity of the interview, and the do’s and don’t’s of post-interview comments.

1. Clean-up in aisle 5! A company in Georgia was recently found to have violated the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act (GINA). Why? It conducted DNA tests to determine who among its workforce had engaged in a campaign of defecating in a common area in its warehouse. Two employees, who were tested but cleared of wrongdoing, sued the company, and the district court held that GINA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic characteristics and makes it unlawful for an employer to request, require or purchase genetic information with respect to an employee, was violated. A jury then awarded the employees $2.2 million. You can read the case and its unsavory facts at Lowe v. Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services, LLC, (N.D.Ga. May 5, 2015).

2. She said what? An anesthesiologist in Virginia was successfully sued for defamatory statements she made about a patient during a colonoscopy. The patient had his phone on record to tape the instructions given by the doctor. He forgot to turn it off and ended up recording the conversation that occurred during the procedure. The anesthesiologist referred to the patient as a “retard,” said she wanted to punch him in the face, and referred to the possibility he had syphilis or tuberculosis, all while the man was sedated. A jury ordered the anesthesiologist and her practice to pay the man $500,000.

3. Whoa Daddy! GoDaddy is being sued for discrimination by a man rejected for a position as a software engineer. While smoking guns are hard to come by in discrimination suits, this gentleman claims to have been handed one on a silver platter. His rejection letter purportedly included an email chain which acknowledged his skills but questioned whether the company wanted to hire “an obese (sic) Christian.” GoDaddy claims that its email was hacked, or the email was fabricated.

If you know of any similar stories, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. In the meantime, we’ll be sure to stay on the lookout for similar developments of interest.

This blog post is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.