A South Florida man may be the first U.S. employee to lose his job over methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—a highly contagious and potentially lethal, drug-resistant bacterial infection also known as MRSA.
Outbreaks this past fall in school districts across the nation—and the death of an otherwise healthy high school football player in Virginia—put the MRSA problem in the news, although the bacteria has existed for decades. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said MRSA killed 19,000 Americans in 2005, more than died of AIDS that year.
Morris Yomtov, a 66-year-old retiree, took a job at the Miami-based IT firm CPT to help pay his property taxes. All was going well until he mentioned to his co-workers that he’d acquired a MRSA infection two years before while clearing brush after Hurricane Wilma.
An hour later, the owner told him to get out, saying, “You couldn’t have had it two years ago because it didn’t exist two years ago.” Later Yomtov was told he could return to work only with a written note from his doctor saying he was not infected. Yomtov had his doctor write and call, but the company still refused to allow him to return to work.
Yomtov has filed an ADA complaint with the EEOC. But since CPT’s concerns relate to worker safety rather than Yomtov’s ability to perform his job, it’s uncertain how he will fare under the ADA.