Detroit attorneys are preparing to sue the national, privately-owned Great Expressions Dental Centers for what they say is the worst case of alleged HIV-related job discrimination they have ever handled in firing employee James White.
The company denied any wrong doing, the Detroit office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agreed with James White and his attorneys. “Based upon the above and the record as a whole, there is reasonable cause to believe that the Charging Party was disciplined, denied reasonable accommodation, and discharged due to his disability, in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.”
James White, 26, had been working for Great Expressions for about six months as an office employee when he tested positive. As result of the diagnosis, White moved quickly into care, arranging appointments to make sure he was healthy.
he was prohibited from touching doorknobs in the office. Staff members followed him around with Lysol, spraying and wiping down the surfaces he touched. He was subjected to unexpected changes in his schedule. It continued until finally he was discharged for unexcused absences.
Peter Kronenberg, vice president for communications for the National Association of People with AIDS. “In a nutshell, stigma kills. HIV is not spread by casual contact or touching surfaces other people may touch. We’re glad that the former employee is standing up for his rights. [If the allegations prove to be true], he sends a message to other employers and HIV-positive employees everywhere that workplace discrimination is unacceptable.”