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West Palm eatery settles ADA HIV-by-association lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

When managers at Callaro’s Prime Steak and Seafood Restaurant learned that an employee’s relative was HIV-positive, it asked the worker to take an AIDS test. Now the West Palm Beach restaurant is paying the employee $10,000 to settle the resulting EEOC disability discrimination lawsuit.

When the employee refused to be tested, restaurant managers changed her schedule and working conditions, cutting her hours back so far she was forced to resign.

That’s when she filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging that Callaro’s violated the ADA both by discriminating against her because of her association with a disabled person and by regarding her as disabled when she was not.

After EEOC mediation attempts failed and the employee filed her lawsuit, Callaro’s decided to settle rather than go to court.

Callaro’s agreed to a four-year consent decree designed to end discrimination against those associated with persons who have HIV or those whom it regards as having HIV. The restaurant will adopt and distribute an anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policy, train all employees on the policy and report all harassment complaints to the EEOC.

Note: The ADA allows employers to address only obvious disabilities unless the employee reveals a disability. Once the employee reveals a disability, the only question the employer can legally ask is, “Do you need an accommodation to perform your job’s essential functions?” If the answer is no, document the conversation and let the employee work.

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