In Shreveport, Louisiana a Popeyes Chicken franchisee has agreed to a $25,000 settlement. The lawsuit alleged that the company refused to hire an HIV-positive man.
In 2011 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the franchisee on behalf of Noah Crawford after he had applied for a job at Popeyes in Longview, Texas. Crawford had written “medical” as the reason for leaving his last job and when he was asked what the medical reason was he replied “HIV.” Despite his years of experience in fast-food he was told he could not work for Popeyes in his condition.
The EEOC said that not only are employers prohibited form asking possible employees about any disabilities, but this also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which forbids discrimination against qualified employees who have disabilities. EEOC trial attorney Joel Clark said in a prepared statement, “The ADA is intended to deter employers from jumping to conclusions about an applicant’s ability to perform a job. In-house education on the ADA can be effective toward eliminating assumptions and fostering a more inclusive work force.” According to court papers the company argued its actions were based on “legitimate, nondiscriminatory business purposes unrelated to any purported conduct or protected status” and that its actions were “not intentional, malicious, willful or reckless nor was Crawford a qualified individual with a disability the way the ADA defines.
HIV discrimination cases are only a small part of the EEOC’s list and they usually only produce small settlements. The point of these litigations is to send a message to employers about discrimination.