translation agency

The Washington Blade
Lambda reaches settlement in HIV bias case: Tenn. company to adopt anti-bias policy, pay fired employee
Steve Koval
May 18, 2005
Washington Blade - May 18, 2005

Lambda Legal announced today that it reached a settlement with Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based Nodak Enterprises, bringing to a close a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Joey Saavedra who alleged he was fired for being HIV-positive.

Joseph Saavedra recently settled a lawsuit against his former employer in Atlanta. Saavedra alleged in a lawsuit last year that the company fired him for being HIV-positive.

In the settlement, Nodak Enterprises agreed to adopt a nondiscrimination policy, conduct extensive training on HIV issues for its employees, and pay an undisclosed amount of money to Saavedra.

"Employers must come to understand that discriminating against someone with HIV is bad for business and against the law," said Jon Givner, director of Lambda Legal's HIV Project. "We're pleased that the result was favorable for our client and also sends a message that HIV discrimination will not and should not be tolerated." Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in May 2004 on behalf of Saavedra, claiming Nodak violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against qualified people with disabilities.

Saavedra first disclosed his HIV status in January 2003 when he interviewed for the job at Service Auto Glass in Atlanta. Nodak is the parent company of Saavedra's former employer. He said it was never a problem with his direct supervisors. Saavedra is a skilled auto-glass installer who has worked in the industry for nearly 27 years.

"I knew right away that what Nodak did to me was wrong and I knew that no one should have to endure that kind of humiliation and disrespect just because of HIV. I'm glad I fought back and I hope that others don't have to go through anything like this," Saavedra said at the time.

He was fired three days before his full employee benefits were to be activated. His manager handed him a personnel form which stated: "Employee is considered a direct threat to the safety of others since there is a potential for lacerations in his current position." Last month, Lambda Legal launced a public action against the company last month is part of its ongoing "Blow the Whistle on Workplace Discrimination" campaign, an effort to educate employers about the rights of gay people and those with HIV in the workplace.