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HIV-positive man wins $500k in discrimination lawsuit

Three years after he was fired from his job, a former hotel office manager has been awarded over $500,000 in damages in a discrimination lawsuit. The man claimed in his suit that he was the victim of wrongful termination and discrimination because he was HIV-positive. Although one does not hear of it in the news very frequently, discrimination relating to HIV is still common in Florida and other states. This man's case, however, has a positive ending, as he succeeded in obtaining justice under the law.

The man had been employed as the assistant office manager at a boutique hotel. He received commendation for being an exemplary manager in 2008, and he was given two raises. However, in 2008 he also received a positive diagnosis of HIV.

As a result of his condition, he requested to be removed from the night shift, since his medication caused him to experience drowsiness. His request, however, was denied -- even after he provided his employer with a note from his doctor. The supervisor advised him to quit.

Nevertheless, the man continued to work for the hotel, but in April 2010 he was advised that he needed to work nights again. The man filed a complaint, alleging disability discrimination with the hotel's human resources department. In the complaint, he cited his rights afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act and the ADA. Next, he began to receive bad evaluations and anonymous complaints, and he was eventually fired. After losing his employment and source of income, he also lost his apartment due to foreclosure proceedings.

The man's verdict was determined by jury decision. He was awarded $185,000, which represented compensatory damages, and he was awarded an additional $347,500 for punitive damages. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded to Florida plaintiffs, too, especially in extreme cases of discrimination. Not every case is clear and extreme enough to warrant an award of punitive damages; however, in this case, the man's attorney described the ruling as completely fair. Indeed, those who complain of workplace discrimination to their superiors will be protected from retaliation and retribution under the law.

Source: edgeboston.com, Man With HIV Gets $500G for Wrongful Termination by Manhattan Hotel, Winnie McCroy, March 18, 2014

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