New York Employment Law Blog

Monday, May 1, 2017

HIV-based Employment Terminations on the Rise: Know your rights

Despite major advances in the treatment and maintenance of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), social and cultural stigma still remains – including discrimination by current and potential employers in the workplace. Sadly, reports indicate that HIV-based employment discrimination actually rose in 2016, putting it at the forefront of equality issues for hardworking Americans.

In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched a lawsuit against the Subway Corporation following its decision to terminate an employee based – at least circumstantially – on that employee’s status as an HIV-positive person. As part of its argument, the EEOC introduced evidence that the employer expressed repetitive concern over what could happen if the employee cut himself while preparing a sandwich. The employer further allegedly expressed concern over what could happen to business if local customers were to find out about the employee’s diagnosis. After consulting with Subway’s risk management department, the manager fired the employee as he posed to great a risk from a liability standpoint. In the end, Subway agreed to an undisclosed settlement with the anonymous plaintiff.

Nonetheless, reported instances of workplace discrimination based on HIV and AIDS increased 88 percent in 2016, and have been reported nationwide.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was interpreted to include those with HIV/AIDS as within the purview of those protected from discrimination. These laws fortunately prohibit discrimination not only in the workplace, but with regard to public accommodation and access to services and transportation. With regard to employment, the EEOC is still tasked with protecting this vulnerable demographic, however it is still unclear how much time, effort and resources will be allocated to combatting this issue under the current political climate.

For help, call us today!

If you would like to discuss your employment discrimination issue, please contact Yale Pollack Law today: 516-262-5028.  


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