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Man with HIV accuses employer of disability discrimination

Minnesota workers, like those all throughout the country, are protected by a number of state and federal laws regarding prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. Disability discrimination affects thousands of employees each year and can present itself in many different ways. Unfortunately for one Minneapolis worker, his disability may have been the primary factor in his unexpected firing.

According to the Minnesota AIDS Project's legal manager, employment discrimination issues accounted for around 5 percent of the cases they dealt with in 2012. And because HIV is recognized under the law as a disability, workers that are HIV-positive cannot be mistreated and/or singled out because of their medical condition.

However, the food server who recently filed a discrimination lawsuit against his previous employer claims he was abruptly fired after he told a supervisor he has HIV. He says he first realized he was removed from the schedule completely when he returned to work after taking a few days off due to his medical condition. He also claims that his employer failed to provide him with information needed to obtain medication, health insurance and public assistance. The only damages the victim is seeking is lost wages associated with his allegedly illegal dismissal.

The defendant in the lawsuit contends that the victim was not in fact fired at all, but quit his job on his own accord. The employer also claims that they refused to settle with the victim out of court because they believe his accusations are groundless. Though, the company did apparently offer the victim his job back when they learned he had legal representation.

If the defendant in this case is unable to prove that either the victim did quit voluntarily or that they had valid reasons for terminating his employment, they may be found liable for damages.

Source: Star Tribune, "Lawsuit: Mpls. Server claims he was fired for being HIV-positive," Abby Simons, April 16, 2013

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