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Did California restaurant fire an employee because he had HIV?

A popular restaurant known as The Ivy in Los Angeles is under fire for allegedly discriminating against a former busboy who had HIV.

In California, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on his or her medical condition. Additionally, an employer cannot fire an employee because of a disability or other health problems. Employers have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to better accommodate the needs of disabled or ill employees.

A lawsuit filed last month by the former restaurant employee claims he was fired after he gave the restaurant a note from a doctor from the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic. The clinic is known for providing treatment to patients with HIV. The note stated that the man had a “chronic medical condition requiring on-going, life-long treatment.”

According to the lawsuit, the busboy began treatment after being diagnosed with HIV in December of 2010. The man began to experience adverse side effects after starting his new treatment, and he told his employer that he was experiencing some health problems. His employer told him to go home for a week, but he was fired when he returned the next week with a doctor’s note explaining that he was suffering from a serious illness.

In response to the wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit, the Ivy claims that management was not even aware that the man had HIV when he was fired and that the employee was fired for other reasons.

The former busboy has received a significant amount of support and help from the community. Recently, a group of protesters led by the executive director for the group Las Memorias appeared at the restaurant to rally for the man and to let the restaurant know its actions are not appropriate.

Although the man is supported by many as he fights his case and his illness, he has also had to fight other personal battles since losing his job. The man no longer has an apartment to live in or a car to drive. He is now homeless because he has not been able to find another job since he was fired from the Ivy.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, “Protesters Rally Around HIV-Positive Busboy Suing For Wrongful Termination,” Irene Moore, April 12, 2012


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