Mark Iandolo Feb. 17, 2016, 2:24pm


GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged Sappyann Inc., which operates Yesterday’s Pub & Grille in Sanford, North Carolina, with allegations of discriminating against an HIV-positive applicant.

Aubrey Hawkins applied to be a server at Yesterday’s Pub around April 22, 2015, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit. During the interview, owners allegedly questioned Hawkins about his medical discharge from the military. Hawkins mentioned he had an immunodeficiency.

The owners told him to fill out paperwork and report to work the next day, according to the complaints, but then revoked the offer the following day after learning the immunodeficiency was HIV. Hawkins alleges he provided information showing it was safe for him to work in the food industry, but the owners, allegedly, were too concerned.

Alleged actions like this violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the EEOC says, and the act strictly prohibits employees from discrimination based on their disabilities.

"An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant based solely on fears or other assumptions about the applicant's ability to safely perform the duties of the job, simply because the applicant has a disability," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District. "EEOC will continue to litigate cases where people with disabilities are not provided to work in jobs that they qualify for and can perform."

The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages.

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