HIV Discrimination Persistent in the Workplace

Last week actor Charlie Sheen revealed that he is HIV-positive and has known about his health status for the last several years. Immediately following Sheen’s disclosure came reports that previous intimate partners were lining up to pursue legal action against Sheen for allegedly infecting them with the disease. The recent press regarding Sheen’s situation brings to light the fact that HIV is still a frightening topic that is met with many misconceptions. Nowhere are these misconceptions and fears greater manifested than in the workplace, where after 30-plus years of HIV knowledge managers are still discriminating against HIV-positive employees, in violation of the law.

HIV and AIDS are qualifying disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Therefore, employers are prohibited from making employment decisions on the basis of an employee’s HIV status, and are required to reasonably accommodate those employees who are in fact HIV positive. Although most employers are well aware of the law, many are still making mistakes that can lead to costly discrimination lawsuits.

New Lawsuit Evidences Lack of Progress

The most recent example of HIV discrimination comes from a Subway restaurant in Indianapolis. The EEOC recently prosecuted the Subway franchise for firing a man due to a “stereotype that people who are in the restaurant business are contagious and that people can contract HIV through food.” The lawsuit filed on the man’s behalf by the EEOC alleges that he was fired in violation of the ADA. The suit seeks back pay and punitive damages.

Recent polls have suggested that the general public is still wary of HIV and does not have the requisite knowledge to comment accurately on the subject of contagion and workplace risk. Undoubtedly, this lack of knowledge extends to management, and is a real discrimination risk in the workplace. Thankfully, training courses flesh out the confusing legal principles set forth in the ADA, and provide managers and employees with the knowledge required to make fair and neutral employment decisions no matter the disability in question.

Training Courses Carve the Path to ADA Compliance

The fundamentals outlined in Syntrio’s disability discrimination courses are custom tailored to the needs of your business and include real-life and hypothetical scenarios that teach your managers the nuances of the law that may not be readily apparent. Because the courses are designed in a cost-effective and time-sensitive manner your managers will receive the instruction they need to prevent disability discrimination while minimizing the time missed from work.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and associate litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business.

Contact Syntrio for more information about our prevention of disability discrimination in the workplace courses for management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that may impact your business!


The ADA Turns 25 Yet Disability Discrimination in the Workplace Persists

On July 20, 2015, President Obama celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) in Washington. The historic celebration marked a quarter century of increased statutory protection for disabled employees. Although the ADA has unquestionably reduced incidents of disability discrimination, and has increased employer awareness of their obligation to accommodate disabilities in the workplace, it is far from perfect and contains many complicated facets that are difficult for employers to comply with. Simply stated, disability discrimination in the workplace still occurs, and it is something employers need to watch out for via heightened awareness and training programs.

Roto Rooter to Pay $100,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Charge

Just a week shy of the ADA’s 25th birthday, Roto Rooter settled a disability discrimination dispute after an investigation revealed that an Iraq War Veteran was denied the ability to return to his job with reasonable accommodation. The EEOC investigation found that it was unacceptable for a military service veteran to be denied reinstatement where it was clear that there were accommodations available that could allow him to resume his job duties.

In addition to paying $100,000 to settle the case, the EEOC has required Roto Rooter to complete vigorous training focused on the ADA, reasonable requests for accommodation, and the duty to report employee requests for reasonable accommodation. All of this could have been prevented had Roto Rooter conducted disability discrimination in the workplace training up front, rather than be forced to do so as a remedial measure.

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace Training Has Multiple Benefits

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with qualifying disabilities. Many times managers or HR professionals dismiss requests for accommodation as unreasonable without thinking about them. Consider the situation where an employee returns from back surgery and requests an ergonomic chair that must be ordered from an office supply store. Although many managers dismiss such requests and attempt to remedy the situation with an existing piece of furniture, if the chair can be acquired at a reasonable cost, failing to meet the request (or coming to a consensus accommodation) can be disability discrimination.

Syntrio Is Committed to Helping Employers Comply with the ADA

Syntrio is committed to helping companies of all sizes commit to the utmost ethical standards in all aspects of conducting their business, and therefore provides cost-effective disability discrimination in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern companies.  Contact for more information about our HR compliance courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!