Fired For HIV, Workers Sue Employers

A 45 year old Georgia man who was fired after his employer learned he is HIV-positive has filed a discrimination suit in US Federal Court.

Joey Saavedra, a skilled auto glass installer has worked in the industry for nearly 27 years. He disclosed his HIV status during an interview for a job with Nodak Enterprises.

He was hired, but three months later he mentioned that he is HIV-positive to the company's district manager and was fired.

Nodak Enterprises' termination notice said, "HIV status is a direct threat to the safety of is in the best interest of this Company to terminate employee at this time."

Lambda Legal, Saavedra's lawyers, claim that his dismissal had nothing to do with job performance since his immediate supervisor wanted too keep him on the job.

"Joey Saavedra was fired out of fear and bigotry -- not sound science -- and that is against the law," said Greg Nevins, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta.
"Joey presents no risk to other employees or customers."

Lambda Legal's lawsuit is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities if they pose no real risk to themselves or others.

Lambda Legal recently won the largest settlement of its kind against Cirque du Soleil when the company agreed to pay $600,000 to gymnast Matthew Cusick after they fired him because he has HIV.

Cusick was told by Cirque du Soleil management that because he has HIV he was a "known safety hazard".

In its defense, Cirque said that it would only hire people with HIV for positions that don't involve bodily contact -- such as dishwashers, food and beverage staff, and souvenir vendors. But, it would not allow people with HIV to work with other performers.

Sources here and here

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