Federal Agency Charged Company Fired Employee Because He Was HIV-Positive
NEWNAN, Ga. - Gregory Packaging, Inc., a nationwide manufacturer and distributor of juice products to school districts and medical institutions, will pay $125,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that Gregory Packing fired an employee from its Newnan, Ga., facility after learning that he was HIV-positive. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employee worked as a machine operator in the packaging department at the company's Newnan plant. Despite his good job performance and demonstrated ability to perform his job in a safe manner, Gregory Packaging admitted it terminated the employee because of his HIV status.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit on Sept. 26, 2014 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-00152) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The consent decree settling the suit, in addition to monetary relief for the employee, includes provisions for equal employment opportunity training, reporting, and postings.
"The company now acknowledges that the employee's continued employment after he became HIV-positive did not pose a threat to the health or safety of him or others," said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta office. "This is a positive step in eliminating the unjustified fears the ADA was designed to combat."
Gregory Packaging, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., also operates plants in New Jersey and Arizona. It distributes juice products under the trade name Suncup.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.