EEOC Files Suit on Behalf of HIV-Positive Wisconsin Teen Fired From Job at Grocery Store
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of Korrin Krause, a 16-year-old Wisconsin girl who was reportedly fired from her job at a grocery store because she has HIV, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The EEOC suit contends that Quality Foods IGA, a grocery store in Schofield, Wis., "may have violated" the Americans With Disabilities Act when it allegedly fired Krause from her job as a grocery bagger because of her HIV status. The suit states that Krause was fired from her job on Feb. 5 after Quality Foods management learned she was HIV-positive. The EEOC said that at the time of Krause's dismissal, the store manager told Krause's mother that the teen was being fired because "her HIV posed a danger to store customers and other employees" and that keeping her employed was "bad for business." EEOC attorney Robert Tomlinson said that Krause's situation is "exactly the type of discrimination that [the ADA] was designed to prohibit" (Murphy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/20). Earlier this month, the owner of the grocery store said that he offered Krause another job as a clerical worker after he learned of her HIV status. Store owner Bernard Enkro said, "While we did not feel it appropriate to continue Ms. Krause in her original assignment in light of her situation, we did offer her a different assignment in the store. Our interest was in protecting her health, not removing her from the store" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/7). Although Enkro could not be reached for comment by the Journal Sentinel, Quality Foods attorney Thomas Crone maintained his claim that Krause was not fired but instead reassigned.
The EEOC suit seeks an injunction prohibiting Quality Foods from "refusing to hire qualified people with disabilities" and is also asking for compensatory damages for Krause's "inconvenience, humiliation and pay" she would have earned had she continued to work at the store. The suit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the store for "reckless conduct." Monetary damages are capped by federal law at $300,000 in lawsuits such as Krause's that are brought against companies with more than 500 employees. It is unclear whether Enkro, who owns seven other grocery stores in Wisconsin, employs more than 500 people (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/20).