When Your Boss Wants Your DNA

Joseph Shapiro reports for NPR:

Last month, Matt Williams, an adjunct professor at the University of Akron, opened an e-mail from his bosses about the school’s new rules for hiring and was “absolutely blown away,” he says, “when I saw the reference to collecting DNA samples.”

The university was saying it could ask new workers for a DNA sample — to run background checks. But Williams knew his DNA could also be used to discover the most private of information about his health — like his genetic risk for cancer, heart disease or mental illness.

To Williams, who taught in the School of Communications, it was one more insult in the hard life of an adjunct professor. (He’s an officer in a national organization, New Faculty Majority, that advocates for adjunct professors.) He says adjuncts at the University of Akron sign new contracts from year to year, so he expected to be counted as a new worker the next time his contract came up.

So he quit.

“I don’t want to say necessarily that the university had any mal-intent per se,” he says. “The problem is, if the university is maintaining this sort of information on its employees, the temptation to use that information is simply far too great in the future.” …

[continues at NPR]


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