the mysterious case of the devious defecator

In honor of Friday, I hereby present to you the case of the “devious defecator,” so named by the judge who recently presided over the lawsuit it spawned.

You can read some news coverage of the case here, but essentially, a warehouse in Georgia was trying to figure out who was leaving piles of poop around the facility (!). For some reason, suspicion ended up focusing on two employees in particular, and the company got them to agree to a genetic analysis that would compare their DNA to that of the poop.

Word started spreading around, and the two workers became the subject of mockery and humiliating jokes.

The DNA test cleared the two — they were not in fact the fecal culprits. But they sued the company, and sure enough, a judge ruled that even though the DNA test did not reveal any medical information, it nonetheless fell under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits employers from using genetic information in making decisions about hiring, firing, promotions or health insurance coverage.

Earlier this week, a federal jury awarded $2.2 million to the two employees “for their pain, suffering and mental anguish.”

As far as I can tell from the news coverage of the case, the actual defecator remains on the loose.

{ 201 comments… read them below }

  1. UKAnon

    I somehow managed to read that almost all the way through as “detractor”. I am not sure if that makes it more or less weird – but thank you for sharing this with your international readers!

    1. Sadsack

      I read it as defactor, and was trying to figure out what that meant. Then I hit the word poop and was really confused.

      1. UKAnon

        I think that’s how I got there! My mind deduced that it couldn’t be defactor and settled on the nearest alternative.

      1. Folklorist

        I totally read Defector, as someone who defects from the military. It took me a while…I really just don’t think my eyes wanted to see what they were actually seeing!

        1. Joline

          That’s how I was reading it until I got to “poop” as well. At that point I felt the need to reevaluate how I had read the previous part of the text.

  2. TheExchequer

    So if the defecator was pooping in a warehouse . . . did the actual poop hit the actual fan? ;)

  3. Sassy Intern

    Why would they assume a human did this? The warehouse oversees storage and shipping for various grocery chains. Like… My first and only guess would be an animal.

      1. Cath in Canada

        If they were testing employees, they’d obviously managed to extract DNA from the, um, samples, to compare to the employees’ DNA. It’d be pretty easy to tell if said sample DNA is human or not. I’m assuming they tested for that before screening employees.

        Or, you know, maybe there was corn in it.

        1. Grapey

          Actually, poop is mostly bacteria. When you extract a bunch of DNA from poop, you get more bacterial DNA than human.

          There are two ways I could think of how it’s done (I work in a sequencing lab):
          1) look at the relative percentages of what kinds of bacteria were present in each sample and compare them. If Suspect A has 10% bacteria A, Suspect B has 2%, and Floor Sample has 10%, that’s evidence for Suspect A. Etc with multiple species of bacteria.
          2) extract only human DNA and compare that (more expensive and less reliable due to less human DNA).

          More info:
          \http://www.mobio.com/blog/2010/07/22/microbial-dna-isolation-from-stool-using-the-powersoil-dna-kit/

          1. Cath in Canada

            Or extract all DNA, but run a PCR-based test with human-specific primers. The primers would only amplify the human DNA (if present) from the human-microbial DNA mix – you might need more rounds of amplification than usual though, if the human DNA’s diluted out that much. That seems like a pretty quick and easy method.

            (I also work in a sequencing facility :) )

    1. Heather

      I would think you’d be able to tell if it’s human waste or not by looking at it too. Mice don’t poop the same way humans do! Unless this person was a really talented pooper and could shape his/her poop at will.

    2. Mike C.

      It’s really easy to tell what sort of mammal a particular sample comes from. This comes up a lot in ecology or hunting for instance.

      1. Stephanie

        Ha, or when I visited SF last month. “Um, that poop is too big to be dog poop.”

        The size of the feces is usually a hint. I run on a path people on horses use sometimes and horse feces is huge.

          1. LJL

            Usually, but not always, I saw a big piece of what looked like a cow patty in my back yard, texted it to my brother (because we are the kind of family that texts poop pics to each other). He said it was deer in origin…the abundance of acorns in that particular deer’s diet made it less pellet-like and more patty-like.

            TMI?

        1. Aaron Gullison

          Human poop tends to be clumpy and dark. A dog’s poop is either small and clumpy or coiled. It can also vary in colour. I once saw some that was brick red!

    3. Lucky

      I hate to say this because I love city living, but if you’re a city dweller for any significant period of time, you learn to tell the difference between human poop and animal poop.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        And as a country dweller, I can tell human poop from rabbit, coyote, dog, and owl. It’s actually pretty easy. Plus, where I live, the human poop is always found in a toilet.

    4. Stephanie

      Yeah, I worked in a warehouse and we had a feral dog come in the other week, so it could have been an animal.

      (We also had a guy tweaking on meth come in another day…so it could have also been a human.)

      1. Dynamic Beige

        When that happened at FormerOffice, he also painted with it on the walls, though.

        And speaking as someone who lives in the country, you learn to tell the difference between human and animal poop. Mainly because there is so much animal poop to avoid stepping in sometimes. Or the way that racoons will poop in the same place at the base of a tree (which I believe may fall out of the tree, but I’ve never observed one pooping to know for sure or perhaps they hang from the tree a bit off the ground and let it fly, because it is pretty compact).

      2. simonthegrey

        I helped tear down part of a house on a property a friend’s family owned (long story) and in the attic we found several piles of what we thought were human poop but my friend’s dad swore were racoon poop.

    5. Artemesia

      animal poop and human poop are not easily confused and those doing it to annoy usually put it places animals don’t. As someone who has worked in retail, I am not without experience in this matter.

      1. penny

        I have a friend in retail and oh the horror stories she’s told me. She’s a stronger person than I. Shocks me how disgusting people can be.

        Wonder what made management think those 2 guys were the poopers. I mean, there had to be cause. I couldn’t point to any of my coworkers and be like yeah he’d poop on the floor. Hee.

  4. Cajun2Core

    2.2 Million dollars. I agree that they deserved a judgement but personally I think 2.2 Million dollars is a bit much.

    1. Kyrielle

      About 250,000 each was compensatory. The rest was punitive, designs to make companies sit up and take notice that this is Not Okay.

      1. Laurel Gray

        Geez, I thought your comment said “make companies shit up” and I been laughing since

      2. Anna

        Yeah. The purpose of punitive damages is that they should cause some pain to the party found to be in violation.

      3. John Cosmo

        Most likely the warehouse in Georgia will appeal the decision itself and the case could drag on for several years more. If they don’t appeal the decision, or if the warehouse loses on appeal, they will appeal the size of the award and the case will still drag on.

        It is very unlikely that the warehouse will actually pay out the 2.2 million dollars to the two employees.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I doubt this is over. But even if they get 1.1 million each, I bet it’s 30% or more off the top for attorney fees. The quarter mill compensatory is taxable, IF I am remembering correctly.
          So it might not be the best idea for them to quit working entirely, especially if they have many more working years.

  5. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    In my high school we had the “poo bandit,” who was known for smearing feces on the walls of the men’s room. I don’t know if he (presumably he, because of the poo’s location) but it is actually a little comforting to know that weird poo stuff happens other places and wasn’t unique to my high school or that episode of Bob’s Burgers.

    1. Vanishing Girl

      Libraries have many, many poop stories. One I heard of from a friend was the time someone pooped in the outdoor book return slot at his public library.

      I’m appalled but also amazed. This person must have been really tall or had an accomplice to manage that.

      1. Kyrielle

        Depends on the library – the book return slots at our local library (the walk-up ones) are in the wall of the building and about 3 feet up, I think they’re meant for the kids to be able to reach also. Or just to go into a low, large bins inside; not sure.

        Also, ew.

    2. Natalie

      Coming from commercial property management, I can assure this kind of things happens everywhere, probably a lot more than you realize.

    3. That One Girl

      I somehow missed your comment because I made one shortly after going “Bob’s Burgers!”

    4. AnotherFed

      My workplace also had one of those… but we called him (again, presumably, because the decorative paintings were in the men’s room primarily) the Mad Shitter. Never caught the person, either.

    5. LBK

      Calling in the maintenance crew to clean poop out of the bathroom sink was practically a weekly occurrence when I was working at Starbucks. The joys of working at a central city location!

  6. Kvaren

    I have so many questions.

    When did it stop? Did it keep happening after the DNA Debacle?
    Did the end of the Devious Defecations coincide with the termination of an employee?
    If this happened in 2012, why didn’t they just put security tech in place?
    Why did they only swab 2 employees?
    Why didn’t they call Mystery Inc.?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I have these same questions! I really want to know what these two men did that made they seem so suspicious. Like were they caught quickly pulling up their pants when someone walked by?

      1. BRR

        Lol. I can’t imagine having inaccurate suspicions about this unless it was based on, he looks like a pooper.

        1. Kyrielle

          Maybe they had some security coverage and those two guys regularly passed through areas that were, um, targeted…or maybe they knew who was supposed to be where and it happened where they were. (Heck, their actual defecator might even have tried to implicate someone, depending.) All sorts of ways to arrive at suspicions, but…wow.

          1. penelope pitstop

            I love this thought so much–I had the same. I wonder if there’s a defecator-deflector in their midst. Or maybe he’s gone, making him the defecator-deflector-defector…that’d be a trifecta! This is a great post with which to head into the weekend. Thanks Alison!

        2. PurpleGerber

          Well, technically everyone’s a pooper, but they apparently looked like “in public” poopers. ;)

      2. Bekx

        I have a coworker at my last job who I would suspect of being an office pooper. He already was the office blow-my-nose-in-my-hands-and-wipe-the-bloody-and-green-snot-on-the-hallway-wall kind of guy.

        1. ScottySmalls

          Uhm what?? It makes me wonder how on earth, people like this were raised. Unless the answer is that they weren’t properly raised, and now I feel sorry for them.

        1. Kelly

          I can see it now “POOPING PERPETRATORS in the NEW and IMPROVED game of “CLUE”! Supplies are limited so get yours today!!!

      3. TootsNYC

        Ditto.

        I wonder if it’s just that they were known to be disgruntled. Or wiseacres.

      4. AnotherFed

        When we had an ongoing Mad Pooper in my workplace, it got really ugly – obviously it was gross and didn’t make a good impression on visitors, so management was all fired up to catch this person and pretty much started a witch hunt. They checked timecards and security footage to see who was supposedly where on days when incidents occurred, and anyone who didn’t have a good alibi for more than one incident became a major suspect. I can easily see how if they had been able to narrow the suspect pool more, they’d have done something this stupid.

        And for what it’s worth, it turns out it’s really hard to set up a security system that leaves no blind spots, and if the mad pooper is saving poop and leaving gifts later, they can take advantage of them without suspicious stops in the blind spot. I wish I did not know this, but there’s nothing so awesome as reaching into the copier tray and discovering a gift. :(

        1. misspiggy

          Oh no no no…. I am so sorry your office had to go through this! Did the attacks stop?

      5. Artemesia

        I seem to recall that they were black from reading stories about it. Most of the employees were not.

      6. Kat

        *Quack,Quack* would probably explain the quickly pulling up their pants if they were seen -together-.

        O.o

    2. Heather

      I’m wondering why they didn’t just put camera up and swipe cards to access the area??

    3. Meg Murry

      I read an article about this a few weeks ago – I think these were the prime suspects based on timecards/shifts assigned – as in, they had both been at work the night before material was found, while other people were not – or maybe they simply had the MOST shifts? I think that was part of the problem that was presented – its not like these 2 employees were caught in the act and the DNA was just taken to prove it was truly them – the company was on a witchhunt and started with DNA testing “the most likely suspects” as an early step.

      1. TootsNYC

        If you were going to do this, though, would you do it on your shift? Or would you find a way to come back later/arrive earlier? (Security camera footage would tell them…what?)

        I’d like to see more on the whole situation.

        1. anonymous for an obvious reason

          Well the person who did the peeing in my building did it on his shift and that was one of the reasons he was caught.

  7. JenGray

    Most of the news coverage I had seen never really mention the humiliation and ridicule the two received. I was under the impression that they were making all employees submit to DNA tests. I actually don’t blame them for suing but 2.2 million does seem excessive. Now I have more questions than answers on this whole situation. I understand that the company had to do something because this was unsanitary but it doesn’t sound like they treated all the employees the same in this situation which is what you always have to do especially given a situation like this.

    1. Natalie

      Most of the award is punitive. You can’t put a company in jail, so the next best thing is to fine the shit*out of them. And their lawyers will probably get a big chunk.

      *Pun not intended, noticed, and then intentionally left in

    2. Stranger than fiction

      They could have had a pretty fancy security system installed for waaaay less’

    3. TootsNYC

      it doesn’t sound like they treated all the employees the same in this situation which is what you always have to do especially given a situation like this.

      The company wouldn’t have been allowed to take DNA samples of all the employees.

      They *could* have turned the info over to the courts and tried to press criminal charges; the government could probably have taken DNA samples following criminal-court evidence rules.

        1. TootsNYC

          yes, my point. They couldn’t have taken any samples, even *if* they were taking samples of all.

  8. JJ

    “They were not in fact the fecal culprits” Hilarious.

    I want to know how they supposedly narrowed it down to these two suspects. Neither one of them turned out to be guilty so whoever was doing the investigation needs to find another line of work.

    1. Observer

      Apparently, that was one of the reasons that the company got hit so badly – the decision to go after these two guys didn’t seem to be based on anything really solid.

  9. voluptuousfire

    This sounds like something out of a John Waters film. Truly! The Rogue Poopinator would probably become a muse for him. LOL.

    1. HRManagerNW

      Hilarious! Too bad it’s so hard for him (and other mid-budget film makers) to get funding now.

    2. Stachington

      I believe an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia covered just this topic!

  10. That One Girl

    Since I’m mentally 12, I’m now thinking of that one episode of Bob’s Burgers where the school has the “mysterious pooper” and Tina is accused of being the culprit.

      1. The bob's references crack me up

        They might be just a little cheaper than the 2.2 mil but who knows!

        1. Kyrielle

          They’re probably also cheaper than the cost of DNA testing for two people plus an unknown number of piles of poo. (Did they test them all? Were they sure they only had one culprit? I mean, I would assume, but I would also assume no one would do that in the first place….)

          1. Mike C.

            I bet you could MacGyver some gel electrophoresis boxes and order some cheap reagents to perform the tests in an ad hoc setting, but it would take some very specific knowledge to do so.

          2. DJ

            Essentially, they were doing paternity tests on the poo. So not that expensive. I’d say $350 or less. Depending on the size of the facilities, cameras could get quite expensive.

            1. Kyrielle

              Good to know – I did not realize it was that cheap.

              Also, I am now giggling at “paternity tests on the poo” – how funny is it that the world gives us a topic where that’s a relevant phrase?

        2. Elder Dog

          You can get a “no glow” (no light from the camera while it’s filming) motion-activated trail cam at Walmart for under $70. They’re kept under the counter in sporting goods. After they’re no longer needed, they can be donated to local animal control to loan out to people who’ve lost pets.

    1. Mike C.

      Seriously, you can get a handful for a few hundred dollars at Costco, and they’re useful for general security, insurance and so on.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Eh the resolution on those isn’t great probably wouldnt get facial recognition it it were mounted high up in a warehouse, but yes they could get some nice high resolution commercial cameras for so much less than 2.2 mill (don’t know how big the warehouse is but part of Oldjob was spec’ing out such things )

  11. jmkenrick

    Actually, I’m curious now. If you were running a warehouse and that started happening – how would you address it? Clearly a witch-hunt (and DNA test) is not the best option. And assuming you can’t set up cameras to cover every possible defecation area…I’m just curious, technology aside, what would be the best approach.

    1. TootsNYC

      You don’t have to cover every area someone might go to, in order to deposit waste matter–just enough to narrow it down to who walked down what hallway when.

    2. A. Non

      There are security specialists who deal with, well, I don’t know how much they deal with poop, but they do deal with other unpleasant behavior. I have a family friend who was a federal agent for a while, and then worked security for a major airplane manufacturer. They had a problem in the final assembly plant where someone was opening up large wiring bundles (of which there are many in a near-complete airplane), clipping one wire at random, and closing up the bundle again. It was causing serious production delays. IIRC they could never quite prove who did it, but they did end up recommending that one particular guy be fired. Management did so, and the problem stopped.

    3. TootsNYC

      Actually, I think the first thing I’d do is figure out who was the most trusted employee (by other employees) in the place. The one that’s most like “a good mom or aunt, a good Little League coach.” Recruit her (or him, but probably a her).

      Then ask whoever is having the bathroom problems to please confide in her/him, and we’d figure out how to make it possible for them to get a proper toilet.

      In other words, starts from the assumption that someone’s having bowel problems and can’t get to a bathroom in time.

  12. The bob's references crack me up

    I just looked up Atlas Logistics Retail Service and they have really bad Google+ reviews.. They also apparently have a security guard?

  13. TheAngryGuppy

    I am reminded of a recent trip to Hawaii in which there appeared to be human poo on the floors of a public restroom at a state park. People from the tour bus that pulled in right after us were FREAKING OUT.

    Dudes, Hawaii is full of feral pigs. Pig poo looks and smells almost exactly like people poo (because we’re all omnivores). This is going to be an inevitable event in open-air structures (as most are in Hawaii).

    1. fposte

      Feral pig poo may smell like human poo, but I’m in pork country, and if I ever smelled like a pig farm I’d go to the doctor right quick.

    2. Anonsie

      I lived there for years, and truly my favorite thing about it was the horror suffered by many tourists when they realize most of Hawaii is actually really gross. There’s something so satisfying about it. “Yeah, take your island paradise and stuff it.”

  14. JustMe

    They must haves to our wharehouse where the poop bandit gas struck three times. We actually found out who it was the first two times, someone with a medical issue they didn’t want to disclose. We ended up acvommodating with a job “duty” located closer to the facilities. The last one is still on the loose, maybe the same guy again. Yes we have cameras, but they aren’t in every single dark corner, and somehow he finds a way to not only do the deed without being viewed, but apparently continues working after the fact.

    1. Amanda P

      This is the part I really don’t get. Who can just drop trou and poop on the floor, and then continue working as though it’s an ordinary Tuesday?

      1. catsAreCool

        Yeah, I would think a person who ran into this issue would at least try to clean it up.

  15. Laurel Gray

    This case reminds me of the time someone was complaining about a single bathroom (one toilet and sink) her whole floor at work shared. By 1pm the bathroom was always filthy and for some idiotic reason, her coworkers narrowed down the culprits to the three people who ate a plant based diet. You know, because only people who eat a clean diet use the bathroom at work!

  16. AnonyGoose

    I wonder if they did genetic analysis to make sure it was an actual human who was the culprit. From what I understand (and I have no intention of doing an image search to verify this), raccoon feces actually looks very similar.

    1. This is not me

      We moved to a very wooded area recently and kept finding poop on our backyard stairs (down to a creek), I was pretty sure it was raccoon. This suspicion has been reinforced by the now frequent appearance of Maurice the raccoon at our sliding glass door. Maurice *really* likes to watch us watching TV. It’s like having the most adorable stalker ever.

    2. Marcela

      Hehe. Your comment reminded me of a documentary I watched about foxes. There was a lady who even spent nights in her garden, trying to capture the fox that every night pooped in there, multiple times. She was so annoyed that the people making the documentary offered her to install night vision cameras. The following morning they had already something to show her: her neighbor’s cat pooping in multiple places. She was soo convinced it as a fox… =^.^=

  17. Rebecca

    Oh, man, we had a rogue pooper here at work once! We never figured out who it was, it was a one-time incident many years ago. We should have thought of this.

  18. ella

    Ack! I just had the issue with the auto-playing ads (I don’t know if this is a bug you’re still trying to track down, Alison). I’m using Chrome. It just auto-played three ads at once in some kind of terrible advertisement echo chamber.

  19. AnonEMoose

    Well…at least this makes me feel a little better about some drama I’m currently dealing with. Because while people are being poopy, there’s no actual poop involved.

  20. Mike C.

    I know this is a hilarious edge case, but I’m really glad to see this particular law being enforced so harshly. There are a ton of different ways genetic information can be abused, and this will only increase as testing becomes cheaper and our understanding of genetics grows.

    /Seriously though, no one thought to put up cameras?! Come on! The fine might as well be a stupidity tax.

    1. fposte

      I suppose it’s possible they did and the pooper eluded camera coverage. But they don’t sound very smart, so maybe they didn’t.

    2. Stephanie

      I work under the security department at a warehouse now. There are cameras, but it might be tough to get a camera everywhere, especially if it’s a large warehouse with lots of machinery like ours. (Also, someone has to be available to monitor the feed regularly, which none of my bosses do, nor do I.) There are infinite places to poop off-toilet where I work. The supervisors seemed more concerned with stealing, so I think they just make sure to know the employees’ whereabouts constantly.

      This isn’t to say I support the DNA testing…

      1. ella

        I don’t think you necessarily have to have someone watching 24/7. The cameras at my job store everything they film for some period of time, and if something happens, a manager or a security person goes back and looks and sees if anything is caught on camera. It’s not really about catching a person in the act, it’s about gathering evidence to (usually) either pass along to the police or to corporate higher ups if an incident happens. If you know where the poop happened and at approximately what time the poop was pooped, you can check the cameras and see who was in the vicinity at the time (or possibly catch the pooper). We had to do something like this to figure out who was vandalizing our public bathrooms; for obvious reasons we don’t have cameras in the bathrooms but by timing found vandalism with the known cleaning schedule and watching people go in and out at the relevant times we were able to figure out who it was.

    3. alter_ego

      Especially as long as our health insurance is tied to our employment. All those hyper invasive “wellness” programs are bad enough, what happens when your company, via your insurance, can start requiring you get tested for the genetic markers for breast cancer or something?

    4. Anonsie

      Oh yeah, that’s what I was going to say. We do a lot of genetic testing for research where I work, and I have to explain GINA to folks when I enroll them but the question of “how is this going to be enforced” is tricky.

  21. Lola

    How do they know it wasn’t someone else’s product moved to the location – by the suspects?

  22. Carrie in Scotland

    There was something similar happening in a small local library a few years ago. I’ll see if I can link it, assuming I can find it. Don’t think it went as far as DNA or anything though.

  23. GlorifiedPlumber

    Holy crap!

    I used to work for a DNA Identification company (mostly paternity, but we would have identification tests like this from time to time), I wish it was not true, but I have performed DNA profiling on fecal matter!

    Urine DNA tests are MUCH more common than people realize as well. Think about a positive drug test from a urine sample… “That’s not my pee!” could easily be uttered.

    I wonder how that would play into this decision. Employee fails urine test. Gets threatened with discipline or termination. Employee says, it is not mine, and convinced DNA test to be had. Word gets out and employee is subject to retribution from employees. DNA test clears employee. What then???

    Anyways, I am curious too where it actually goes awry… was it being subjected to humiliation and mockery or was it something else? I feel like the DNA test is… ancillary to the story.

    Personally, if I was accused of pooping places… and I was innocent… and the company had the balls to do a DNA test to clear me, man, I would ecstatic! I feel like being cleared that way would be AWESOME, and NOT in any way a violation.

    Totally sending this off to my old coworkers.

    1. Student

      There’s a law to specifically ban the use of genetic information to make hiring or firing decisions, or employer healthcare access decisions. This company used genetic information to make a firing decision, even though it was a decision to not fire someone based on being “cleared of wrongdoing” through a genetic test. It means that you cannot use, in any context, genetic tests to decide whether or not to fire or hire someone.

      Your former company’s urine DNA analysis to decide whether to hire/fire someone for a drug test would probably also be illegal (on the part of the companies making the hiring call – not on the DNA analysis company).

      The law was probably intended to protect people against being DNA-screened for specific genes – like for genetic diseases, characteristics (sex, race, secretly a cat in a human suit), or familial relationships. It probably wasn’t intended to protect people against a forensic analysis like this one, but the law is written broadly enough that the forensic analysis still falls under the scope of the law.

      1. GlorifiedPlumber

        Good point, that makes sense.

        It wasn’t a test to clear a name per se, it was literally, based on the outcome of this test, we will or will not fire you.

        It sounds like urine tests are not likely to be found at my old companies in that style capacity! This was back in 2003, so I would imagine much can change.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I agree with you the bulk of the problem occurred before the DNA test. The real problem was that the company targeted two innocent people. I don’t know, maybe they wore the wrong colored socks one day or something. The problem accelerated when somehow everyone found out who the two targeted individuals were. Now how did THAT happen? THEN, these individuals where harassed and that harassment was allowed to go on and on, gee, this must be a really great place to work. (NOT)

      It is reasonable to assume the the real pooper knew that others were targeted for his/ her actions. So the real pooper has a had months maybe years of amusement as this whole company falls apart over the poop problem.

      “Playing” with one’s own excrement can be a mental health issue. I think that the company could have benefited by investigating that angle and what is known in professional circles about this type of illness before they jumped in and targeted two random people.

  24. Jill

    Can I just say that if I was the plaintiff in this case and won all that money, the first thing I’d do is buy a fancy gold toilet for my home, just to have the last laugh.

  25. mdv

    I work in a university parking office — this is EXACTLY why we do not have a public restroom!

    1. SerfinUSA

      OMG! My partner dispatches for campus police, located in the parking/public safety building. The nastiness left in those bathrooms….not to mention the one time someone most-probably had a miscarriage in one bathroom and left a crime scene behind.

      1. Michelle

        I had a miscarriage in a restaurant bathroom. It was very sudden, to the point where I was basically trapped in the bathroom with no way out without leaving a massive trail of blood. I was terrified and humiliated, sobbing and apologizing to the poor waitress even as my husband was rushing me out the door to the hospital. I can completely imagine that if it was a bathroom where there was no one to alert / apologize to, I’d have just left. What else can you do? I needed immediate medical attention (not to mention that I was in terrible pain).

        I’m just saying, whoever left that mess, I completely sympathize.

          1. Michelle

            Thank you, Rana and Connie-Lynn. I didn’t mean to get so personal. I just thought… If that happened to someone, it’s not remotely in the same category as someone who is defecating on the floor at work.

  26. Beaker

    So many puns! I love it! :)
    I just can’t (and don’t want to) imagine someone at work just stopping and deciding to take a squat out where anybody could walk by and witness! I have a shy bladder in a bathroom stall so that would definitely be a nightmare..

    1. Stephanie

      The boss who asked the employee to unclog a toilet must have resigned from this place since no one uses the bathroom.

  27. Lily in NYC

    Oh my god, this is hilarious to me. We had a mystery pooper who did unspeakable things to our bathroom and I even ended up with her poop on the back of my calf (I was wearing pants thank god). I was so angry that I jokingly demanded that my office test everyone’s DNA.

  28. TootsNYC

    Found a link to court documents

    http://hr.cch.com/ELD/LoweAtlas.pdf

    Beginning in 2012, an unknown number of Atlas employees began defecating in Atlas’s Bouldercrest Warehouse. (Id. No. 6.) The defecations occurred numerous times and necessitated the destruction of grocery products on at least one occasion. (Id. No. 6-7.)
    Atlas attempted to remedy the defecation issue by asking its Loss Prevention Manager, Don Hill, to conduct an investigation. (Id. No. 8.) Mr. Hill began his investigation by comparing employee work schedules to the timing and location of the defecation episodes in order to create a list of employees who may have been responsible. (Id. No. 8-10.) Plaintiffs Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds were two of the employees Mr. Hill identified.

    There’s no mention of whether any -other- employees’ DNA was gathered as well (are these guys only named because they’re the ones in the suit? You’d think there might be comments about the other employees even though they didn’t participate, when talking about punitive damages. And the lawyers would, I think, try to get them in the suit, because that would up the ante in terms of their percentage).

  29. TootsNYC

    I think it’s interesting how quickly the assumption is “deliberate malicious pooping,” and yet a couple of people on this thread have said, “someone with a medical problem.”

    1. fposte

      I think malice is such a common reason, especially in a recurring situation, that that’s where people’s minds go first. I don’t think it’s a problematic assumption, and I’ve got Crohn’s myself.

      1. TootsNYC

        And I guess -where- you find it matters in terms of that conclusion. Sort of like–when the cat goes on the mat in the entryway, it’s a “my box is too dirty” situation; when she goes in the middle of the bed, it’s a political statement.

      2. Soupspoon McGee

        Yeah, Crohn’s here too, and I’ve never managed to poop in a hallway. And desperate Crohn’s poop (or bad chili) doesn’t seem to fit the description here.

  30. AndersonDarling

    Was this a trial by jury? They would have to be snickering the whole time. “huh, huh, he said ‘duty’.” “He, he… he said ‘number two in command’.”

  31. Sigrid

    My wife’s former supervisor was fired for pissing in the office’s potted plants — at the time, that was the most disgusting thing we had ever heard of, but now when it’s brought up, I always say, at least he wasn’t pooping in them!

  32. Panda Bandit

    Years ago I worked at a drugstore where someone took a crap in one of the aisles and smeared it all over the shelves. The poor overnight manager had to clean it up and nobody ever found out who did the pooping.

  33. CAndy

    There’s never usually any DNA in poo.

    That’s why burglars are sometimes pleased to leave one in the middle of your lounge carpet.

    1. Cath in Canada

      Not true! The human (or other pooping species) DNA is just present in very small amounts, compared to the amount of bacterial DNA. But you can absolutely get enough DNA out to run testing. There are even companies that offer doggy DNA testing to catch the owners who don’t pick up after their dogs: http://www.pooprints.com/ (I think I first heard about this on This American Life)

  34. Anonsie

    Oh man. I am going to have so much fun throwing this into my GINA shpiel I give to study participants.

    So much fun.

  35. ewwwgross

    ok, for a second i thought OH MY GOSH THIS IS MY FORMER WORKPLACE. Apparently A town is a hot spot for…devious defecators?! I worked in Atlanta 3 years ago (I now am in another state) and we had an employee poop in a conference room. They spent a long time looking for the culprit, but as best I understand it, they couldn’t find him/her…but they had their suspicions. I wonder if the culprits are serial workplace poopers and ran over to our office after they had success at theirs? Yikes. Just…ewww.

  36. Former Cable Rep

    Huh, engaged managers usually don’t have to resort to DNA testing to find out which employees really give a shit.

  37. Mari

    This is actually kind of hilarious. They tried to make this such srs bsns (I mean, it is, but the idea of DNA testing is just over the top) and got blindsided by a law you normally blow off as something from Gattaca.

    But what kills me is that stuff like this can happen, and all the similar stories in the comments plus those posts about weirdest work stories…but at some point we had that poster who thought her boss put toilet water in her bottle who was absolutely lambasted because “People don’t do stuff like that! Why would you even think of something so gross??” Great crowd. :/

  38. marilyn

    This is slightly unrelated, but years ago, I worked in a pizza restaurant. I was a teenager at the time. There was someone in the women’s bathroom who kept smudging poop on the stall. Since no one was fessing up, management decided that we all had to clean the bathroom on a rotating weekly schedule. Fortunately, we didn’t need any DNA testing – we learned who it was when the dishwasher deliberately threw a pizza rack at our boss and was promptly fired, and thus the poop smearing came to an end. I’ll never forget that as long as I will live.

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