(Atlanta, Georgia) A Georgia auto glass company involved in a lawsuit by a former employee has admitted firing the man because he is HIV positive.
Joey Saavedra, 45, a skilled auto glass installer who has worked in the industry for nearly 27 years disclosed his HIV status during an interview for a job with Nodak Enterprises. After he was hired, Saavedra also told his direct supervisor. Three months later, after news of his HIV status made its way up to the company's leadership, Saavedra was fired--even though he did his job well and his direct supervisor wanted to keep him on staff.
Lambda Legal is representing Saavedra in his wrongful dismissal suit, filed in federal court. In its court filings, defending its actions, Nodak this week admitted firing Joey Saavedra because he has HIV.
"Nodak Enterprises has just admitted to firing our client because he has HIV, and we're committed to holding them accountable," said Greg Nevins, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta.
"There's nowhere for them to go; our client was fired out of fear and bigotry--not sound science--and that is against the law."
In his notice of dismissal the company said, "HIV status is a direct threat to the safety of others...it is in the best interest of this Company to terminate employee at this time."
In the court papers made public today, the company admits that Saavedra "performed his job duties in a satisfactory manner" and that the termination notice "speaks for itself."
"Joey presents no risk to other employees or customers," said Jon Givner, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's AIDS Project. "Even with medical advances that allow many people to live longer and healthier lives, the social stigma and baseless fears about HIV still exist."
Lambda Legal's lawsuit, filed in federal court, is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that prohibits discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.
Nodak Enterprises operates 42 retail stores under the names Auto Glass Service and Service Auto Glass in seven southern states. The company is headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.In April Lambda settled settled a similar case on behalf of gymnast Matthew Cusick who had been fired by Cirque du Soliel. The company agreed to pay Cusick $600,000