EEOC Sues Popeye’s for Failing to Hire Applicant with HIV

September 17, 2013 – 11:19 am | By Kathryn McGovern | Post a Comment

A Popeye’s chicken franchise refused to hire a job applicant because he was HIV-positive, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has alleged in a lawsuit.

Famous Chicken of Shreveport, LLC, a company that owns several Popeye’s Chicken restaurants, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC’s suit alleges. The general manager of a Longview, Texas, location refused to hire Noah Crawford for a position after learning that he was HIV-positive, the commission said in a press release.

Crawford had years of prior experience working for a fast food restaurant, including experience as a general manager. When he filled out an application for a position at the Longview location, he was asked to disclose the reason for leaving his previous job. He wrote “medical” and when the general manager asked for more information, he replied that he has HIV. Crawford was immediately told that he could not work for Popeye’s, according to EEOC.

This violated ADA because the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code does not list HIV as a disease transmissible through the food supply, EEOC said.

The commission filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (No. 6:13-CV-644) seeking injunctive relief, including a mandate that the restaurants revise their policies. EEOC is also seeking lost wages and compensatory damages for Crawford and punitive damages against the employer.

EEOC trial attorney Joel Clark  said in a statement that pursuing this case is part of the commission’s “overall strategic effort to encourage employers to prevent discrimination by making hiring decisions that are well-informed, rather than snap judgments that are based on myths, fears and stereotypes about people with HIV.”

For more information about food-service employees with disabilities see EEOC’s How to Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act: A Guide for Restaurants and Other Food Service Employers.

For more information about ADA compliance, visit Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert.

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