The operators of a McDonald's in Bentonville, Arkansas are being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for allegedly firing a worker for being HIV-positive.
The lawsuit, filed July 1 against Mathews Management and Peach Orchard, Inc., claims the defendants violated the Americans With Disabilities Act both by firing the worker and by "requiring employees to report their use of prescription medication," Reuters reports.
According to the complaint, the unnamed employee was hired in November 2014 as a crew member; in February 2015, a shift manager asked the unnamed employee about his HIV-positive status, and warned him that he may be fired for it, saying they "had previously terminated a female employee who was HIV positive."
The plaintiff was fired shortly thereafter on the basis of violating attendance policies, though the suit claims "[the companies] did not terminate other employees who had the same or more attendance violations than the [plaintiff]."
In a press release, the EEOC says it's seeking "monetary relief in the form of back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, removal of the prescription medication policy, and an injunction against future discrimination."
As Reuters points out, McDonald's Corp is not named in the suit. Reached for comment, the company provided the following statement from owner-operators Bill Mathews and Walter Mathews:
It is our policy to provide equal employment opportunities to all persons regardless of physical or mental disability, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. We deny that Plaintiff's separation was based on his medical status. These allegations are without merit and we will vigorously defend this baseless claim.
Check out the lawsuit as filed in the U.S. District Court of Western Arkansas, below: