HIV-positive man claims disability discrimination

Since HIV first came to be well-known among Americans, there have been many advancements made. These advancements aren’t limited solely to treatment of the disease, but also to the general attitude toward people who have contracted the virus. The change of attitude has come largely as a result of public education campaigns about how the disease is actually spread. A recent focus of these movements has been to allow more HIV-positive people to find employment by preventing disability discrimination. As a result, those who are positive for the virus in Wisconsin are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Recently, a company that owns several restaurants has come under fire for its treatment of an applicant who is HIV-positive. According to a lawsuit recently filed, a man with several years of relevant experience, including as general manager, applied for a position at Popeye’s, a fast food restaurant. On his application, he listed his reason for leaving his last job was due to his medical condition.

The lawsuit states the manager interviewing him questioned him about his medical condition. When he learned that the applicant was HIV-positive, he allegedly told him he would not be hired due to his medical condition. The Food and Drug Administration does not consider HIV to be a disease that can be transferred through food, meaning a business such as a restaurant cannot decline employment to an otherwise qualified applicant based on such a diagnosis.

The suit seeks lost wages as well as other damages for the man. If the claims against the business are true, it is unfortunate that some people still have to overcome the stigma of an illness based on someone’s lack of knowledge. A person who feels he or she is a victim of disability discrimination has the right to seek legal recourse, just as this man has done. If the allegations can be proved, a Wisconsin civil court could award appropriate damages.

Source: Focus Daily News, Popeyes franchisee sued for disability discrimination, No author, Sept. 18, 2013


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