Jezebel- An Indiana Subway franchise is being sued in federal court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for firing an employee for being HIV-positive. Stay classy, Indiana.
Via WTHR 13, the Sheridan, Indiana Subway hired the employee (listed in the lawsuit as John Doe for somewhat obvious reasons) on New Years Day of this year. Twelve days later, the employee informed his boss he was HIV-positive, and roughly a month after that, on February 14, the restaurant fired the employee.
According to the lawsuit, when informed of the employee’s HIV-positive status, the supervisor specifically asked “What if you cut yourself?” and “What about it if our customers find out?”
Except for rare cases in which children consumed food that was pre-chewed by an HIV-infected caregiver, HIV has not been spread through food. The virus does not live long outside the body. You cannot get it from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person; even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus.
Whew, tough year for Subway, huh? Gotta say, it's a little strange that they are fine with years and years of sexual misconduct allegations surrounding their spokesperson, but have a strict policy against HIV positive employees. Oh well, you got to stand for something, right?
This whole story boils down to one question. If given the choice, would you rather have an HIV positive employee constructing your sandwiches, or an HIV negative employee constructing your sandwiches? Yeah, that's what I thought. Listen, I know I can't get HIV from someone touching my completely underwhelming food, but I know I DEFINITELY can't get HIV when that someone doesn't have HIV. That may be a completely ignorant way to look at things, but hey, it's better to be ignorant and healthy than sympathy and sickly. Plus, isn't health what Subway preaches above all else?
I don't think that every person that is unfortunate enough to contract HIV should be shunned from the workplace like they are some sort of ex-convict, but there's a very simple way to avoid that type of discrimination. Don't tell your manager you have HIV. I could be wrong, but the "higher-ups" at the local Subway don't strike me as the most worldly people. Not only that, but if being HIV positive poses absolutely no threat to the customers then there is no reason to tell your boss you're HIV positive. Sure, it might be the right thing to do, but it's also the dumb thing to do. This chick is probably going to walk away with millions from this lawsuit, but for future reference she may want to take into consideration that most people would rather not work with those that are HIV positive. When we are talking about a disease that has the history of HIV/AIDS, the decision to stay as far away as possible doesn't have to make logistical sense.