Image Image

  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Tuesday, 01 December, 2020

Guard Your DNA Boys & Girls

Date: 07 October, 2003

By: Chief

Imagehe title of this story may sound silly as hell but there is a very valid point for it as you shall soon discover.

It seems that some businesses covet your DNA. Especially the business that is also known as your employer. But why would any business want an employee's DNA? I mean DNA is supposed to be unique to each and every person on this planet. It is that very uniqueness that is at the epicenter of this quite small but soon to grow problem.

Let's assume for the moment that you or I work for a rather large company. One day you are injured while on the job. You end up collecting unemployment or medical benefits for a while, which is something all companies are loath to pay. One day a company representative calls you and tells you that you need to go to the doctor's office for some blood tests. The company will pay for the tests. Thinking nothing of it you do. The nurse draws a bunch of blood from you and she starts to resemble a vampire. A couple of weeks or so later you receive a letter from the company you work for stating that the company will no longer pay either unemployment compensation or your work related injury medical bills because you have a genetic defect which could have possibly either caused or exacerbated the injury. Oh, by the way, you are fired.

Do not even think that I made up this horror story. I am not nearly that sadistic.

Has something like this actually occurred in the real world? Damn right it has. As it turns out, back in 2000 or 2001 the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad was covertly testing blood samples from workers who had submitted claims arising from carpal tunnel injuries. The employees were required to "take a test" or face an internal inquiry for non-cooperation from the company. The employees were not told what the test was about. All I can say is that BNSF sucks.

The purported reason for the test is, according to U.S. News and World Report, all about:

"Money, says Harry Zanville [an attorney for the railworkers' union], insisting the company hopes to avoid paying out millions in medical bills and disability to workers who develop the painful musculoskeletal disorder on the job."

Zanville also stated:

"The railroad wants to be able to say: 'You were a time bomb. Because you are genetically predisposed to the disease, you would've gotten it whether you were a soda jerk or running a jackhammer'."

How lovely. So a suit was filed in federal court to block the DNA testing of employees. Quoting U.S. News:

"The federal court lawsuit, the first of its kind against a private company, charges that the furtive testing violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and several state laws barring DNA testing by employers. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a separate petition, also in a federal court in the Northern District of Iowa.

"The EEOC alleges that the Fort Worth-based railroad required blood samples from workers who had submitted claims arising from carpal tunnel injuries. The blood was then allegedly tested for a genetic defect that may predispose a person to some forms of the ailment. Athena Diagnostics, the lab that allegedly conducted the tests, is also a defendant in the union's case."

I have not been able to find the outcome to the case so it is quite possible that it is either been settled under a confidentiality blanket or is ongoing. I do hope that BNSF loses their bad faith, worthless asses over this. While it may not be technically illegal, it sure as hell is morally reprehensible.

How disreputable of BNSF. A huge company with over 30,000 employees who are working their butts off to ensure safe handling and on time delivery of thousands of tons of vital cargo throughout the U.S. on a daily basis — no matter the weather. Believe me when I say that. I see them in action a two or three times a week.

What BNSF has obviously forgotten, if it ever knew in the first place, that without good employees, the railroad would not exist.

I just wonder what would happen to BNSF's stock if all the employees decided to take a month long vacation? It damn sure would not go up. Then where would the executives and their worthless shareholders be? Sucking hind tit — that's where. It is also where the executives and their worthless, scum sucking shareholders belong.

When Klinton was President he signed into law a bill which proscribed genetic discrimination against federal employees. Unfortunately our Congress has, as is the norm with them, not extended the same right to non-federal employees. I wonder how intensive was the lobbying effort to make sure it did not cover non-federal employees? Pretty stiff I should think.

When you think about it, it is a travesty that such a bill would ever become necessary. People, the vast majority of people, are honest hard working folks who would never stoop to defrauding their employer or the government. On the other side of the coin are large employers and government employers who are thinking only of themselves, money and in the case of public companies, their slime bag shareholders who are not worth the powder to blow them to hell.

People have no idea what their own genetics or genetic history is. How in the world would they know? Do you your genetic history? I, for one, have no clue. I do know that I am honest and believe in a day's work for a day's pay. I'll do right for my employer and he or she had better do right by me.

Any employer who even considers trying some damn fool stunt like BNSF did ought to have the living shit whipped out of them. A few instances of employees showing their employers just how genetically "predisposed" they can be about whipping their employer's ass will go a real long way in the prevention of such nonsensensical medical testing. Besides, it would be excellent exercise and a relief from stress. The employers should be grateful.

In the long run I suspect that more and more large companies will attempt the same sort of shenanigans that BNSF tried. I also suspect, unfortunately, that the several states and Congress will have to step in and put a halt to such a sordid practice by appropriate legislation. Additionally, I believe that there will be numerous lawsuits filed against any company, large or small, who has such tests performed.

Lastly I fully believe that there will be several employers who will get their asses whipped by some pissed off employees.


(Return to the top)