Supervisor Refused to Hire HIV-Positive Employee for Server Position
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Sappyann, Inc., which operates Yesterday's Pub & Grille restaurant in Sanford, N.C., violated federal law by discriminating against an employee when it refused to hire him because he is HIV-positive, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Aubrey Hawkins applied for a position as a server at Yesterday's Pub around April 22, 2015. Hawkins interviewed with the restaurant's manager and then separately with the owner. EEOC alleges that during the interview, the owner questioned Hawkins about a medical discharge from the military and Hawkins disclosed that he has an immunodeficiency. The complaint alleges that Hawkins was given personnel paperwork and was instructed to return the paperwork and begin work the next day. When Hawkins went to the restaurant the next day, however, he was asked more questions about his immunodeficiency by the owner, and Hawkins responded that he has HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). The complaint alleges that the owner then withdrew Hawkins' job offer citing a concern about Hawkins working around food with HIV. Hawkins attempted to address the owner's concern by providing the company with information showing that it is safe for him to work in the food industry despite his HIV status. However, Yesterday's Pub still refused to hire Hawkins due to his HIV status.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sappyann, Inc. d/b/a Yesterday's Pub & Grille, Civil Action No. 1:16-CV-00104) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.
"An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant based solely on fears or other assumptions about the applicant's ability to safely perform the duties of the job, simply because the applicant has a disability," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District. "EEOC will continue to litigate cases where people with disabilities are not provided to work in jobs that they qualify for and can perform."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.