Michelle Keahey Dec. 10, 2012, 12:25pm

NEW ORLEANS - A HIV discrimination lawsuit has been filed against a New Orleans supermarket chain after an sick employee was fired.

Claiming disability discrimination, Steven B. Williams filed suit against Rouses Enterprises and James Harris on Dec. 5 in the federal court in New Orleans.

Williams claims he was hired by the defendant in October 2011 to work in the meat department at the defendant’s store located at Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans. In late November 2011, Williams claims he was diagnosed with HIV and began taking medication.

According to the lawsuit, during this time he was ineligible for health insurance, but was due to become eligible towards the end of January 2012. Due to the serious side effects of the medication, Williams was forced to cancel scheduled work shifts, but he provided his supervisor with doctor’s notes.

On Jan. 10, 2012, Williams canceled a shift by talking to the district manager. The manager inquired as to why he missed his shift. After receiving the explanation, the district manager, responded that Williams could not work there if he had HIV because he posed a danger to customers.

The defendants are accused of denying individuals employment because they have disabilities such as HIV, despite mandated protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages for back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, consequential damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

Williams is represented by Galen M. Hair of Varadi, Hair & Checki in New Orleans.

A jury trial is requested.

Case No. 2:12-cv-02894

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