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Indiana Subway Sued for Firing HIV-Positive Employee

Indiana Subway Sued for Firing HIV-Positive Employee


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the franchise in Sheridan, Ind. fired the employee after he told his boss that he is HIV-positive.

A Subway restaurant in central Indiana has been hit with a federal lawsuit for firing an employee who revealed he was HIV-positive, reports Indianapolis TV station WTHR.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing for back pay as well as punitive damages. According to the EEOC, firing the employee was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore a clear case of employment discrimination.

Although Subway has not commented so far, an attorney for the fired worker, Laurie Young, told WTHR her client was "fully capable of working and was experienced in the restaurant industry....he was terminated solely because of stereotypes his employer had regarding persons with HIV."

The unidentified employee is referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit, which says he was hired at the Sheridan, Ind. restaurant on January 1st. Less than a week later, Doe informed his supervisor he was HIV positive

The EEOC told WTHR the restaurant owner apparently took that action based on what she said was “a stereotype that people who are in the restaurant business are contagious and that people can contract HIV through food.” 

Court documents reveal the man's supervisor asked him, "What if you cut yourself?" and "What about it if our customers find out?"

One month later, on February 14th, Doe said his supervisor called to fire him over the phone, telling him the manager felt that he might be a financial liability to the franchise.

"I think it's important for the public to see that discrimination occurs especially for people who are HIV positive," said Nancy Edmonds, attorney for the EEOC.

The California Restaurant Association put out a booklet on HIV in the restaurant industry to seperate fact from unfounded fears back in 1995, though stigma remains. It reiterates what the CDC states: "There is no known risk of HIV transmission to co-workers, clients or consumers from contact in industries such as foodservice establishments. Foodservice workers known to be infected with HIV need not be restricted from work unless they have other infections or illnesses, such as diarrhea or hepatitis A, for which any foodservice worker, regardless of HIV infection status, should be restricted.”

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