HOUSTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Houston-area nightclub and party venue.
The EEOC says Diallo's violated federal anti-discrimination laws when it forced an employee to provide medical documentation to prove that she was not HIV-positive.
When the employee failed to provide the documentation, she was unlawfully fired, according to the suit.
“It is starkly unfair as well as unlawful to force an employee to prove that she does not have an ailment because it heard she might have it,” said Rayford O. Irvin, district director of EEOC’s Houston district office. “Federal law makes clear the parameters under which an employer may use medical exams, and Diallo’s clearly violated them.”
According to the lawsuit, Diallo's owner/manager approached the employee and demanded, on two separate occasions, that the employee provide documentation to show that she was not HIV-positive after hearing that she might have the virus. The owner told the employee that she must provide the documentation or she would be fired.
“An employer cannot make business decisions affecting an employee who it heard had a disability such as HIV based on generalized assumptions and unsupported conclusions about the effects of the possible disability on the workplace," Jim Sacher, EEOC’s regional attorney in Houston, said. "Knee-jerk reactions to such disabilities – especially if the supposed condition is based on hearsay – are not only outdated, they are illegal.”
The employee did not provide the documentation, and was fired, according to the lawsuit.
The EEOC is seeking an injunction, back pay with pre-judgment interest, reinstatement (or, in the alternative, front pay), compensatory damages and punitive damages, in amounts to be determined at trial.