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NEWS: DNA Tests in the Workplace, Exploring New Legal Territory

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posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 07:31 PM
A hospital in Baton Rouge is trying to get to the bottom of an office prank that resulted in one worker's toolbox being filled with urine. With the urine at their disposal, hospital authorities plan on taking DNA samples from about two dozen employees, with the goal of determining the culprit. The employees have yet to respond to the order to hand over their DNA, except to express unease at the prospect of having to comply with the request.
A Baton Rouge hospital, hoping to get to the bottom of an office prank, is ordering 25 employees to undergo DNA testing or be terminated. Leaders at Woman's Hospital say a man who works in Building Operations returned from several weeks off to find that someone had placed urine in his toolbox.

After hearing of the incident, hospital administrators sent a memo to 25 employees who also work there telling them that DNA testing would be done unless someone came forward admitting guilt. Since no one came forward, the hospital said the DNA testing will begin within the next few weeks. "We checked with our legal counsel first and this is the next step in using technology to help solve a workplace incident," hospital supervisor Stan Shelton said Monday.

The DNA testing, to be conducted by ReliaGene Technologies of New Orleans, will cost the hospital $25,000, he said.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

I think the hospital's lawyers should go back to chasing ambulances, if they're in such a frisky mood. The hospital is willing to spend 25k to find out who peed in a toolbox, so I guess it's not completely strange that they are willing to spend God knows how much in legal fees to determine the legality of workplace DNA testing.

Most states frown on using polygraphs in the workplace, so what makes these lawyers think DNA is going to get a free pass? You can't invade the worker's privacy just because you pay them a salary. They do a job in return for compensation, this isn't an ownership situation.

I think this case, if it proceeds, will be quite interesting to watch. It could determine quite a lot about the future of DNA testing in the workplace. What about government offices, letter agencies and the like? Something to think about...

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 07:52 PM
I believe that the hospital is within it's rights to do what can be done to determine the culprit and there are a couple of reasons why. One is because of the property damage and also because the person who would do such a thing probably shouldn't be working in a hospital. I also believe that there is a way to limit the amount of information gained from the DNA sample and to insure that samples are destroyed once their use in the investigation is finished. A chain of custody is always involved in such matters just for the sake of controlling for the abuse of samples. Ultimately, I think the hospital will win this one.

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 08:23 PM
The problem is Grady that if the hospital is forcing the people to do the test they are over stepping on privacy rights, also once the hospital pays for the test the hospital will own the results and can do with them anything they want to.

Now the people can sue the hospital on grounds invading privacy and they probably win.

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 08:29 PM
The hospital will own the results not the sample. If the test results reveal only whether or not a person is a match, then that information could not be used for any other purpose. It's like a paternity test that many men are forced to take by the courts just because women name them in paternity suits. The information included in the test only reveals the markers for paternity, not all the information that can possibly be determined by DNA testing, therefore the test results are useless for the kinds of abuse that the submitter fears.

[edit on 2006/3/1 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 08:46 PM
Good find, great problem.

Grady and marg - I think both your arguments have merit.

Marg - if the hospital used an independent lab to run the tests and "auditor" to review the results - would that take care of your issues?

Thnx, sofi

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 09:01 PM

I believe that the hospital is within it's rights to do what can be done to determine the culprit and there are a couple of reasons why. One is because of the property damage and also because the person who would do such a thing probably shouldn't be working in a hospital.

I can see the testing being useful to discover which orderly has been raping the comatose woman in bed nine, or whatever, but to discover the origin of urine in a toolbox? Perhaps the solution will be to require DNA samples from anyone working in a medical environment.

But it can't possibly end there, can it?

I would be inclined to leave my job in the hospital before submitting, but maybe that's just me. Have they drug tested the urine, I wonder? Could that be an unspoken element in the hospital's decision?

What the employees should do, in my opinion, is refuse. If they are terminated, they should seek unemployment, and demand a hearing. They'll win, most likely.

I also believe that there is a way to limit the amount of information gained from the DNA sample and to insure that samples are destroyed once their use in the investigation is finished. A chain of custody is always involved in such matters just for the sake of controlling for the abuse of samples.

I'm afraid this genie doesn't go back in the bottle. The chain of custody has a habit of breaking down, have you noticed? Human institutions seem a lot like machines, the more components prone to failure, the higher your chance for a catastrophic, sequential breakdown.

Better to avoid all that inefficiency and potential disaster by simply drawing the line at workplace DNA testing. : shrug : I think employers should hire trustworthy and responsible employees to insure against pissed-in toolboxes and other atrocities.

I was reading earlier about a former prison guard with three live in girlfriends, who shot and killed 13 people in 1982, including seven of his own children I think. Who's hiring these people?

I don't know why employers feel it's their right to peek inside our bodies and analyze the contents of our blood or urine or whatever else. Either hire me or don't, but if you start wanting to probe me as a condition of employment, I'll find employment elsewhere, thank you very much. These practices wouldn't stand if people weren't desperate for work. (Strangely enough, most businesses are starving for competent employees at the same time)

If the cops wanted to investigate the incident, they would have been within their rights to investigate using DNA, right? I'm sure they have better things to do, which is something the hospital ought to think about for a second. This is going to be an expensive witch hunt, and all for nothing if my instincts are correct.

Bottom line, what sort of moron spends 25 thousand dollars investigating a pissed-in toolbox? How big was this toolbox anyway? How expensive were the tools; was he sportin' a bunch of 500 dollar designer screwdrivers with ebony handles? For cryin' out loud, I understand it's a hospital environment, but it's not like anyone's pissed on the patients.

I too have a toolbox, and if I came back from vacation to find someone had pissed in it, I'd be pretty mad. Okay, really mad. But I wouldn't start demanding DNA tests from my neighbors! I'd analyze my own behavior to figure out what I could do in the future to prevent a recurrence (attitude, security, etc.). Why? Because that's the only measure with a reasonable chance of success.

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 09:08 PM
I find the idea of an employer paying $25,000 just to find out who peed in a toolbox ludicrous. Unless this prank is repeated, just forget it and go on. If they want to replace the man's toolbox & tools I'm sure they could do it for a lot less than $25,000. Eventually the prankster will be found out anyway and/or the real problem employee will quit just because of peer pressure. As it stands, they will make everyone uncomfortable and unhappy with the work place environment.

posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 09:22 PM
Astronomer, exactly! And when workers are uncomfortable they aren't productive. Witch hunts have a way of making people uncomfortable.

This is going to lose the hospital money in a whole bunch of interesting ways. They're making a bad decision, IMO.


posted on Mar, 1 2006 @ 11:22 PM
Notice the wording... "placed urine in" not "urinated in" ... doesn't sound like there has been any damage or even anything particularly nasty. Just pee in a cup placed in the toolbox. Of course, there could be a lot more to the story than is reported, but judging by the choice of words it sounds like it could easily be a patient sample.

If the hospital can not demonstrate a high likelihood that the source of the urine itself is one of the employees, I dont see how they could possibly fire any of them for refusing to submit.

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 12:50 AM
Correct me if I am wrong here, but it is my understanding, that under the 5th amendment, Americans, even those in Louisianna, are protected from self incrimination?

Further, are we not entitled to the "security of our persons, property and papers" unless compelled by legal warrant issued under due process of law?

In short, what gives this bunch of back-water bone-setters the legal right to demand DNA samples from their employees, when not even the po'leece can do the same without reasonable cause and a search warrant?

LA may not be a Right-to-Work state, but for this employer to demand DNA samples to pursue a disiplinary, NOT a Crimminal matter goes too far beyond the bounds of hubris. If the hospital's attitude is "OUR way or the Highway!" I, as an employee, would hit that highway and take the first off-ramp to a labor/civil rights attorney for a nice big wrongful termination suit.

We must learn to defend our rights as Citizens before we most surely lose our rights as Slaves.

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 02:49 AM
The corporate side of it aka playing devil's advocate:

Reminds me of what occurs if an embezzlement occurs in a bank, where the FBI comes in and polygraphs everyone. Although it's voluntary, usually everyone goes along with it because employees don't want the burden of suspicion cast upon them and risk termination.

So with that in mind, offer the piss test and fire all the rest who refuse. New hires will conform to random piss tests or they can find another employer.

Can fire for no reason in right to work states.

As for spending $25k to catch a toolbox pisser, that's just a stupid fiscal policy unless the data is used on a permanent basis for future problems such as drug screening, health insurance screening, and employee lifestyle control.


Now as far as I feel about it from the employees point of view:

Debtor Labor Class = They Own You.
Your life for money that ends up back in their pocket.

If you work for a corporation you are theoretically a slave to said corp. More folks ought to think of being their own bosses or make plans to become financially independent as soon as possible. Orwellian culture is creeping in, so don't expect it to get better if your in a subservient position.

Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence

Get out while you can....the older you get, the harder it becomes. Big corps are axing retirement and health bennies, cutting wages or just closing down and letting all those loyal employees hang out to dry. They already stepped over the line from being an employee friendly company to being slave-masters, if they ask for DNA.

Big Changes For Pensions Ahead -Forbes
The corporation prefers prison slave labor -Idaho Observer/2004

[edit on 2-3-2006 by Regenmacher]

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 06:17 AM
Right to work? Talk about double-speak. It's really more like "Right to Get Fired."

All this nonsense, it's really discouraging. Even moreso the fact that it goes right over most heads. :shk:

[edit on 2-3-2006 by WyrdeOne]


posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 10:44 AM
First we have employee drug testing for illicit drugs, followed by employee testing for nicotine, now we have employee DNA testing and required employee RFID implants do not appear to be far down the road. I fail to see the point in allowing employers to do any of these things, since employers can pretty much terminate an employee at will. The only reason for allowing this type of invasion of employee privacy off the job is nothing less than a demonstration that the employer owns the employee.

Clearly a government of the people, by the people, for the people has indeed perished from the earth.

The American experiment is dead. God help us all.

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 11:54 AM
Every buisness in the United States has the ability to drug test you with no reason what so dont have to have been behaving inappropriatley.....This is mearly buisness keeping up with technology in thier consitent attempts to insure that the status quo doesnt change. I agree with the posters above me...the American experiment has ended. However....that doesnt mean that the American people cant stand up and say WHAT THE HELL!!!!Our fore fathers would have wanted us to. How much more abuse must we take at the hands of the socially less evoloved. Money, power, corruption...those three thigns seem to always be interconnected...and yet...whom do we consitently elect....those with large sums of money and power. And we wonder why we are consistnetly losing freedoms...whether it be democrat or republican...they are the same party. Im not advocating not voting...but...we need to start actively fighting back...saying no.this isnt right and we arent going to put upwith it.... Those hospital employees should refuse to be tested and then...they should sue the hell out of the company...they will lose...but...its a step in the right direction.

Companies are not gods, not persons, and most definalty are not government....therefore they shold not have the control they do....not to sound nostaligic...but RISE THE PROLETARIATE.

Say no to big buisness over stepping thier grounds.

with great knowledge comes great responsibility.....the problem is that our government does not comprhend responsibility.

El senor pom pom rides again

[edit on 2-3-2006 by Elsenorpompom]

Edit: Removed swear.

[edit on 2-3-2006 by intrepid]

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 12:17 PM

Originally posted by Elsenorpompom
Say no to big buisness over stepping thier grounds.

That's all well and good, but good luck finding and keeping a job. I'm not sure of the details in this case and I think that there must be something none of us know for the hospital to be making such a deal of it, but when you get hired you sign documents that provide for the rights of the company and your rights. If you're unwilling to sign such documents, then you are welcome to find work elsewhere.

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 02:06 PM
thats just great isnt it? you can send people away because they dont have health insurance or probably cant pay for the medical bill, but youll pay 25000 dollars to find out who put the pee in the toolbox. that just disturbs me beyond all else.

i agree with wyrde one, he made pleanty of good points. personally i feel like its just another step toward slow restrictions which eventually will lead us to a point where we will look back and go "what the hell happened?..." and anyone that lived in say 1990 and though things werent going good will look and go "damn, this cant be true"
the best way to trick a society into your own way is to do it slowly and little by little. thats exactly what they are doing, baby steps, but making ground by all means. if some one says something they take a step back, then take smaller steps over a longer period of time. never mistake it, they are constantly doing whatever they can to screw you, in the long run.

posted on Mar, 2 2006 @ 03:31 PM

Originally posted by soficrow
Marg - if the hospital used an independent lab to run the tests and "auditor" to review the results - would that take care of your issues?

Thnx, sofi

I still do not trust any of the labs that do DNA test.

Now on the issue of the urine, what if the urine was taken from one of the patients at the hospital and didn't come from an employee?

Will the hospital then turn to the patients to test them also?

Because I bet that the person that did the prank didn't use his, or hers own urine.

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