Employee Unlawfully Fired Because of HIV Status, Federal Agency Charged
DENVER – Maverik, Inc., doing business as Maverik Country Stores, a billion-dollar company operating approximately 200 gas station/convenience stores in 10 western states, will pay $115,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The lawsuit, filed on Sept. 30, 2010 in federal court in Cheyenne, Wyo., charged Maverik with violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by allegedly failing to accommodate and then firing an HIV-positive bakery clerk.
According to public filings in the lawsuit, EEOC v. Maverik, Inc., d/b/a Maverik Country Stores, 10-cv-0212-F, Maverik learned of the employee’s HIV status when it was disclosed in a workers’ compensation proceeding. The employee, who had worked for the company over three years, was fired two weeks later because of an alleged fear that he should not be working with food. The EEOC also said that Maverik failed to make reasonable accommodations for the employee.
In addition to the monetary settlement, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit prohibits Maverik from further discriminating based on disability and requires the company to review its written ADA non-discrimination policy. The decree also requires Maverik to provide ADA training to its Wyoming work force and to higher-level supervisors and managers company-wide. Maverik is required to post an ADA notice in each of its Wyoming locations and to make periodic reports to the EEOC.
“The ADA prohibits employers from terminating employees because of irrational fears about disabilities,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the Phoenix District, which includes Wyoming. “HIV/AIDS has been recognized as a disability under the ADA, and there is nothing about having HIV which should preclude an individual from working with food.”
EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said, “In 2010, almost 100,000 charges of discrimination were received by the EEOC, about 25 percent of which were based on alleged ADA violations. The EEOC stands ready to assist any job applicant or employee who believes he or she is the victim of employment discrimination because of a disability or any other prohibited basis.”
On July 13, 2010, President Barack Obama charged federal agencies to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, one goal of which is to better serve people living with HIV—including by preventing barriers to employment of people with HIV.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Phoenix District Office covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and part of New Mexico. Further information is available on the EEOC’s website at www.eeoc.gov.