A Subway restaurant in Sheridan, Indiana, is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal entity, for allegedly firing an unnamed employee after he disclosed his HIV status.
According to the lawsuit filed with the EEOC, the employee was fired about a month after he informed the manager, which he was not legally required to do, Fox 59 reports.
“What if you cut yourself?” the manager allegedly said after the defendant disclosed that he was HIV-positive. “What if our customers find out?”
The lawsuit states that the manager then said she would have to talk to a district manager.
When the employee was fired a month later, the manager allegedly said that he was a liability to the company.
The alleged conduct is explicitly illegal according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the legislation’s question-and-answer section regarding HIV and AIDS, an example of an illegal firing is that of a restaurant firing an employee upon learning they have HIV.
"One of the reasons we litigate a case like this is so people recognize that it is against the law," EEOC attorney Nancy Dean Edmonds told Fox 59. "You can't terminate someone just because you find out that they're HIV positive.”
The EEOC is seeking an injunction to prevent the Subway restaurant from engaging in disability discrimination, and the former employee is seeking monetary compensation.
"We believe that this individual was terminated simply because of ignorance and fear that customers would find out, but that's not an excuse for terminating somebody," Edmonds said.