HIV-Positive Teenager Files EEOC Discrimination Complaint Against Former Employer, Alleging ADA Violation
Sixteen-year-old Korrin Krause of Schofield, Wis., said in a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that she was fired from her job as a grocery bagger because she is HIV-positive, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Krause, who is adopted and is believed to have contracted HIV from her birth mother, worked one day at Quality Foods IGA last February before being fired. Krause said she told the store's hiring manager during her job interview that she might need to take breaks "at certain times" to take her AIDS medications and that she might need time off for doctor's appointments. According to Krause, the manager said that "wouldn't be a problem" and offered her the job. After working one day, IGA manager Thad Streeter called her adoptive mother Linda Krause to confirm that Korrin had HIV and said she was no longer needed at the store. With the help of the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Korrin Krause filed a complaint with the EEOC alleging that in firing her, IGA violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prevents employers from inquiring about an employee's HIV status or discriminating against a worker because of HIV status (Marchione, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/2). A commission official ruled in May that there was "reasonable cause" to believe that a violation had taken place and asked both parties to work on a deal for punitive damages (Associated Press, 9/2). According to Christopher Krimmer, Krause's attorney with the AIDS Resource Center, IGA initially offered to give her $1,000 to go to schools to talk about HIV, but negotiations are ongoing. During the negotiations over damages, an IGA official told another lawyer with the AIDS Resource Center that he "didn't want other store workers 'to take this (HIV) home to our families,'" Krimmer said, adding, "The idea that this young woman could possibly transmit the virus by bagging groceries is ridiculous." Jeffrey Hynes, co-chair of the Wisconsin Employment Lawyers Association, said the case "epitomizes why we have and need strong disability discrimination laws, to protect people who have a serious, debilitating, medical condition through no fault of their own" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.