Health Care Staffing Firm Refused to Hire HIV-Positive Nursing Aide, Federal Agency Says
PITTSBURGH -- A leading national health care staffing firm violated federal law by withdrawing an offer of employment to a certified nursing assistant because she was HIV-positive, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
The EEOC charges that Pittsburgh-based Capital Healthcare Solutions, Inc. extended a job offer to an experienced certified nursing assistant but unlawfully rescinded the job offer less than one month later based on his disability. The job offer was conditioned on the nursing assistant passing a medical examination. In the medical form, his doctor noted that the certified nursing assistant was HIV-positive, but was not restricted from performing the required job tasks, so long as “universal precautions,” such as gloves and face masks, were used.
Even though the nursing assistant was well-qualified and able to perform the job, Capital Healthcare Solutions withdrew the job offer and refused to hire him because of his disability or because the company regarded him as disabled, the EEOC said in its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-01249.
Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his disability, record of disability, or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief barring the company from engaging in disability discrimination in hiring, and monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the nursing assistant. The nursing assistant is also represented by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm providing free legal assistance to people with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic.
“President Barack Obama has charged federal agencies to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which includes addressing and preventing employment-related discrimination against people living with HIV,” said Philadelphia regional attorney Debra Lawrence. “This case serves as an example of how the EEOC will strongly enforce federal laws to ensure that qualified people are not wrongfully deprived of an opportunity to earn a living simply because of their HIV status.”
District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio, said, “This lawsuit should remind all employers that they must make employment decisions based on an individualized assessment of the person’s ability to do the job, and not act out of speculative fears or biases against individuals with HIV.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.