Workplace discrimination is more than just a supervisor creating a hostile work environment or refusing to promote someone because he or she falls into a protected category. It is more than just treating some people differently because of their religion, national origin or race. Workplace discrimination can also manifest as wrongful termination, in which an employer fires an employee because of his or her membership in a protected category or in retaliation for exercising his or her employee rights.
And that is what happened to a New York man who was fired from his job at the Manhattan Club in 2011. The hotel apparently terminated him after it received an anonymous complaint against the 50-year-old man and a particularly harsh employment evaluation. The man, however, says that both the evaluation and the complaint came after he filed a complaint with human resources about disability discirmination.
The man, who was being treated for HIV, had asked to be taken off of the night shift because his medication made him sleepy. His request was denied, even after he backed up his request with a doctor’s note. His supervisor suggested that he quit if he was going to be unable to work nights.
Though he eventually was put on the day shift, he was later told that he would be going back to working nights. It was then that the man filed his disability discrimination complaint with HR.
Following his firing, the man filed a wrongful termination lawsuit and was recently awarded more than $500,000 in compensation and punitive damages. The hotel has not yet commented on the award.
Source: New York Daily News, “Man with HIV wrongly fired from Manhattan hotel job awarded more than $500G,” Rich Schapiro, March 17, 2014