Genetic Screening in the Work Place

Essay by agunnUniversity, Master'sA, July 2007

download word file, 4 pages 4.0

In this paper we will discuss the lawsuit file by the EEOC against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) on behalf of several of its employees. This case has many twist and turns, and is subject to much interpretation. Needless to say it is all based on personal opinion. BNSF settled very quickly though it vehemently denies that it did anything wrong. They also settled for a large amount of money to the tune of $2.2 million. This can be interpreted one of two ways. Either they did something wrong and BNSF knew this but was not willing to admit it to save face, or they did nothing wrong and they projected the case would take years to litigate and cost much more money than what they were asked to settle for and their reputation would be tarnished in the process. Was the settlement fair? Did EEOC file suit on the proper grounds? The case goes as follows.

The CaseIn 2000, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company began secret genetic testing of some of its workers. The workers had sought worker's compensation and medical attention for carpal-tunnel syndrome. The workers claimed that they had not given consent nor did they know about the genetic tests. One worker alleged that he was threatened with losing his job if he did not comply with testing.

The genetic tests were designed to find a particular mutation in a gene, which is the cause of a condition called Hereditary Neuropathy with liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP). HNPP causes a person to be susceptible to nerve injury from pressure, stretch or repetitive use and can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. ( the workers found out about the genetic testing, they, their unions, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit. They contended...