Armando Gutierrez has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, Big Biscuit, alleging that he was fired after telling his manager that he has HIV.
Gutierrez found out that he was HIV positive in December 2018, a year after he began working at Big Biscuit. He notified his manager about his diagnosis shortly after and asked him to sign a from so that he could receive medication from a state program.
The next day, Gutierrez found out that he was being transferred to a different location and would have to work Sundays even though Gutierrez had made an agreement when he was hired that he wouldn’t have to work Sundays due to family commitments.
The lawsuit claims that Gutierrez was fired after he told the restaurant that he was transferred to that he couldn’t work Sundays.
“Almost immediately upon learning of Plaintiff’s medical diagnosis, management changed his schedule in such a way that it knew he could not continue to work,” the lawsuit says.
The suit adds that Gutierrez wasn’t given any warning and was well liked by management before.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that someone can’t contract HIV by eating food handled by someone with HIV.
“Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus,” CDC said.
The virus can only be transmitted through bodily fluids such as what can happen during sex and sharing needles.
The lawsuit argues that Big Biscuit violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by firing Gutierrez.
HIV.org states that individuals have been protected from discrimination by the ADA since a Supreme Court ruling in 1998.
“The ADA prohibits discrimination by employers, places of public accommodation, and state and local government entities,” HIV.org says.
However, the number of complaints that are filed every year suggest that discrimination still occurs.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that it has received 195 claims of discrimination because of their HIV status in 2018.
Gutierrez’s lawyer, Mark Dugan, said that the termination had a huge impact on Guitierrez.
“First, he was upset by the diagnosis; he was upset at work. The fact that he was unable to continue in his job just further undermined his stability,” he explained.