This week the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Maverik, Inc. The EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Information regarding the EEOC lawsuit against Maverik was posted Monday, Oct. 4, 2010 on the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Denver Field Office website. According to EEOC’s complaint, Maverik “unlawfully discriminated against Randy Ramos, who is HIV positive, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Ramos was “a good employee who had worked as a bakery clerk in Maverik’s Afton location since 2005.” In 2008, Maverik allegedly terminated Ramos “just 13 days after Ramos’ HIV status was disclosed in a letter from the Wyoming Worker’s Safety and Compensation Division.”
“HIV is very much a disability under the ADA,” said EEOC Phoenix Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill, whose jurisdiction includes Wyoming. “One would expect that employers in this day and age would be sensitive to that and agree to work with an HIV positive employee, not fire him.”
EEOC also alleges that Maverik failed to make reasonable accommodations for Ramos.
According to information provided by the EEOC, the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming “after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages. The EEOC is also seeking “injunctive relief prohibiting further discrimination by the employer and mandating corrective action.”
“HIV and AIDS may not be the media story du jour anymore, but the EEOC is still committed to protecting persons with HIV who are discriminated against in their place of employment,” said Rayford Irvin, acting district director for the EEOC Phoenix District Office. ”It is illegal to treat employees or applicants based upon myths, fears and stereotypes about HIV or AIDS.”
Brad Call, spokesperson for Maverik, Inc., called the EEOC “wrong” in its assumptions of the circumstances leading up to Ramos being fired.
“Maverik is a equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate,” Call said. “We are in compliance with the law.”
According to Call, the decision to fire Ramos had nothing to do with the former Maverik employees’ HIV status. The people who made the decision regarding terminating Ramos’ employment with the company “were not even aware that he was HIV positive,” Call said.
That being the case, Call continued, “it is impossible that the decision about Ramos’ was based on his status as being HIV positive.”