Friday, May 30, 2008

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Va. man claims TGI Friday’s fired him over HIV status

Friday, May 23, 2008 - via Washington Blade

An HIV-positive gay man is alleging discrimination and wrongful termination against the company that owns TGI Friday’s restaurants, prompting the Office of Human Rights in Alexandria, Va., to schedule an open hearing May 31. James McCray, a Woodbridge, Va., resident, says he was fired from his position as general manager on July 28, 2006, after he disclosed he is HIV positive to Robert D’Anna, the newly appointed director of operations for the TGI Friday’s restaurants in the Washington area. McCray filed a complaint against Carlson Restaurants with the Office of Human Rights on Nov. 16, 2006.The Office of Human Rights, a contracted agency for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, already issued a determination in August 2007 stating that there was reasonable cause for discrimination. The office is holding the May 31 hearing because Carlson Restaurants wants to present new evidence in the case. The commission reviewing the case is required to make another determination within 30 days after the hearing.McCray writes in his complaint that D’Anna (known as Robert Rocher at the time of the firing) acted strangely after learning about McCray’s diagnosis.“His facial expression changed from inviting to a hard expressionless look then he drew back from me,” McCray writes.The next day, D’Anna summoned McCray to the TGI Friday’s in Washington Reagan National Airport and terminated him.McCray argues that his termination violated the Human Rights Code for Alexandria and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protect people who are HIV positive.In response to the accusations, Carlson Restaurants says McCray was fired because of concerns with restaurant operations and his integrity.The restaurant chain claims McCray lied to D’Anna on July 28, 2006 — the same day McCray says he acknowledged he is HIV positive — about an unrelated matter.And on the same day, Carlson Restaurants says McCray arrived at work at 9:15 a.m., leaving an hourly employee with the charge of opening the restaurant. Company policy requires that a manger show up to open the restaurant at 7 a.m. and be on the premises when hourly workers are there. In response, McCray says that an hourly employee had been opening the restaurant without a manager for many years and that this practice continued after his termination.

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