The EEOC claims that Butterball LLC violated federal law by subjecting an employee to a hostile work environment based on the fact that she has Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and firing her because of that disability.
According to a lawsuit filed n federal court, the North Carolina-based turkey processing company subjected the employee to harassment throughout her employment. Specifically, three of the employee's coworkers expressed to her on a daily basis that they did not to want to touch her or work with her because she is HIV-positive. The EEOC further alleges that the employee complained to her supervisor about the harassment on a near daily basis, but the harassment persisted. Butterball's plant manager was also aware of the harassment after conducting a meeting with the employee and one of her coworkers to address an altercation that the coworker provoked. The day after the meeting, however, the plant manager fired the employee.
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees from being harassed, fired or otherwise discriminated against based on disabilities, such as HIV, that are covered under the act. The EEOC first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement, and now seeks monetary damages for the employee as well as certain injunctive relief.
HIV/AIDS has always been a sensitive health issue, says the EEOC, but an employer has no excuse for failing to intervene when an employee complains of vicious harassment based on her HIV status.
Visit the EEOC website for more information on disability discrimination.