Subway restaurant in Sheridan sued after firing HIV-positive employee

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SHERIDAN, Ind. (September 29, 2015) – A Subway restaurant in Sheridan faces a federal lawsuit after firing an employee.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s lawsuit, Subway terminated an employee at its Sheridan store after he disclosed to his manager that he was HIV-positive.

In response to the defendant’s disclosure, the manager said, “What if you cut yourself?” and “What if our customers find out?” The manager told the defendant she would have to speak with the district manager.

About a month later, the manager called the defendant and said she felt like he might be a liability to the company and they were going to have to let him go.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of a disability.

The defendant seeks to recover monetary compensation in the form of back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.

"One of the reasons we litigate a case like this is so people recognize that it is against the law," said EEOC attorney Nancy Dean Edmonds. "You can't terminate someone just because you find out that they're HIV positive."

EEOC asserts that the company's actions were intentional and demonstrated a reckless indifference to the worker's federally protected rights. The agency is also seeking other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in any future disability discrimination.

"We believe that this individual was terminated simply because of ignorance and fear that customers would find out, but that's not an excuse for terminating somebody," said Edmonds.