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Restaurant Accused of Firing Texas Man Over HIV Status

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

A man served his former employer with a federal lawsuit alleging they violated his rights.

A former restaurant worker says he was fired from a Texarkana, Tex. restaurant because he's HIV-positive.

Nicholas Watson filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of the Hopkins Icehouse restaurant, which operates under a different name and management team from when Watson left his position there in March 2019. Watson said the restaurant's general manager told him his HIV status was unacceptable. "We're worried it's going to affect business, like revenue," the unnamed manager allegedly said.

Watson sought help from the Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he was always capable of performing his work duties. His lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Texas, accuses Holding Icehouse management of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act — which bans employment discrimination based on disability — and terminating Watson with "malice or reckless indifference" to his federal rights.

Watson is seeking compensation for back pay, front pay, loss of fringe benefits, loss of bonuses and other costs, according to the Texarkana Gazette. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages, attorney fees, and court costs.

Back in May, a one-time California police officer sued his former employer, alleging antigay and anti-HIV bias.

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.