The owner of a McDonald's franchise in Arkansas was ordered to pay $103,000 to a former employee fired for being HIV-positive.
The unidentified employee, with the help of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), filed a lawsuit against Bentonville's Mathews Management Company, and affiliated company Peach Orchard Inc., back in July.
The employee was hired in November 2014 and said his duties included cleaning, operating the register, working the drive-thru window, and opening and closing the restaurant. In February 2015, he reportedly revealed to a general manager that he had "an interest" in a co-worker, to whom he had told he was HIV-positive. He was fired shortly afterwards.
The lawsuit challenged not only the company's treatment of the employee but also its policy requiring all employees to report the use of prescription medication, which the EEOC argued violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On November 10, Mathews Management was ordered to pay $103K to the plaintiff, as well as conduct disability training for its managers, and revise its policy on reporting prescription med use. Mathews owns and operates 34 McDonald's in and around Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma--all states that lack employment protection for LGBTQ individuals.
It's surprising and moreover disappointing that people are still being fired for being HIV-positive, which just goes to prove that stigma still surrounds people living with HIV/AIDS, despite significant advances from the dark days of the 1980s and early '90s.