Staffing Agency Refused to Hire Qualified Applicant because He Is HIV-Positive, Federal Agency Said
PITTSBURGH -- Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc., a nationwide staffing service for nurses and other health care professionals, will pay $75,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to the lawsuit, Maxim Healthcare Services in Pittsburgh refused to hire a candidate for an assignment because that individual was HIV-positive. The position involved sitting with patients at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility. Maxim Healthcare made a conditional job offer to the candidate, who is identified in the lawsuit under a pseudonym, that was contingent on completion of a health status certification. The EEOC charged that Maxim later refused to hire the candidate after receiving his medical evaluation which reflected his HIV-positive status but nonetheless provided that he was medically cleared to work. The EEOC did not allege any participation by the VA in Maxim's decision to refuse to assign the candidate because of his HIV-positive status.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Maxim Healthcare Services Inc., d/b/a Maxim Staffing Solutions, Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-00338-MRH) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $75,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit permanently enjoins Maxim from engaging in disability discrimination or retaliation. Maxim will create, enforce and disseminate a policy prohibiting disability discrimination, harassment and retaliation and implement a complaint procedure designed to encourage employees to come forward with complaints regarding violations of its policy against discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The staffing agency will provide training on the ADA and revise its "Health Status Statement Form" to prevent the inadvertent disclosure of medical information. Maxim will also report to the EEOC regarding its compliance with the consent decree and post a notice about the settlement.
Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, "The ADA prohibits employers, including those in the health care field, from refusing to hire qualified individuals based on their disability, including HIV status. This settlement, including the comprehensive training and monitoring provisions, is designed to ensure that current employees and future applicants will not be denied employment opportunities based on disability."
Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, "President Barack Obama has charged federal agencies to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which includes addressing and preventing employment-related discrimination against people living with HIV. This case is an example of EEOC's vigorous enforcement and litigation efforts to ensure that qualified individuals can still support themselves and earn a living notwithstanding their HIV status."
The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.