Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Company Rattles Spears, But HIV Discrimination Story Stands, Corroborated by News Reports

Detroit, MI – HIV discrimination charges against Great Expressions Dental Center of Detroit have drawn national attention.  They have also drawn the ire of the dental center’s corporate lawyers, who threatened the petitioner on Change.org with legal action to make him take down his original petition.  In response, the petitioner has done so, and another is launched in its place, citing corroboration by reporter Todd Heywood of POZ Magazine in a story dated December 8, 2011, of the charges concerning the firing of HIV-positive James White by Great Expressions Dental Centers.  The company denies any wrongdoing, and in a missive widely sent to bloggers who carried the discrimination story, claims to be gay friendly and a staunch supporter of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  While the ultimate truth will probably only come out in court, the story of White’s outing as HIV positive, subsequent harassment by employees with Lysol disinfectant, questionable “unexcused absence” charges, and his firing by the company are corroborated by the POZ article.

POZ also cites the Detroit Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s letter to White, advising him and his attorneys of their ruling of reasonable cause to conclude that Great Expressions had indeed discriminated against White in violation of the ADA.  An excerpt of the EEOC letter reads: “Based upon the above and the record as a whole, there is reasonable cause to believe that the Charging Party [James White] was disciplined, denied reasonable accommodation, and discharged due to his disability, in violation of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.” 

As the company’s denial and threats indicate, this case will be battled out for some time to come.  White and his attorneys are apparently undaunted, and are proceeding with their suit against Great Expressions for compensatory and punitive damages.  In the meantime, if the allegations prove to be true against Great Expressions, a big dental company with deep pockets, then White’s case will serve as a warning to any other company that discriminates against employees because of their disabilities.  Workplace discrimination is inexcusable. It is also inexcusable not to know how the HIV virus is spread, or to prey upon ignorance and fear that often accompany news of the disease.  This blog will continue to monitor events related to this remarkable story.  That is what freedom of information and responsible use of it dictate, and it is also what social justice advocacy is all about.  Those wishing to see the new petition on Change.org can access it here.  Over 1500 have signed as of early December 22.

December 22, 2011 - Posted by | Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment, HIV/AIDS, Michigan, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , ,

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