May 8, 2012
Christopher Peña, a Burger King employee for seven years, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit against the fast food chain citing that Peña was illegally fired because he is HIV positive. According to The Huffington Post, the lawsuit alleges that his termination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, "the civil-rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability and covers people who are HIV positive."
Peña tested positive in April 2011 and told The Huffington Post that he struggled with whether or not he should disclose, but did anyway fearing that side effects from his medications might cause him to miss work.
Peña was fired on Sept. 19 for allegedly poor work performance, according to the lawsuit. He claims he had never been disciplined before disclosing he was HIV-positive, but received a disciplinary action afterward, along with several critical emails after one of the nine restaurants he oversaw failed an audit and others had service problems. The company said he was being terminated for "a performance issue."
Peña said he knew other managers who had the same issues with the stores they oversaw, but he didn't see any receive the same disciplinary action. He said he worked directly for the company as opposed to any franchisees.
"After I disclosed, I was not the only person in my position who had these types of incidents occur in their restaurants, and I was the only one who was being treated this way," he said.
Peña remained unemployed seven months after his termination.
In March, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund also filed a lawsuit against The Ivy, a popular West Hollywood restaurant, for illegally firing a busboy because he is HIV positive.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.
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