Former HIV-Positive Employee Sues Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Center for Discrimination
A former employee of Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Center in Denver, Colo., is suing the center for discrimination, claiming that he lost his job because he is HIV-positive, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, states that John Couture, who was hired by the center in August 2001 as a mobile phlebotomist, was first asked and later forced to take a different job because he told his supervisors that he was HIV-positive. Couture's position, also known as a community blood drive operations donor technician, required contact with blood donors and frequent travel and had opportunities for advancement. Couture said that when he told his supervisors that he was infected with the virus, he was pressured to take a laboratory technician job because the center was "concerned" that people "might be afraid" to donate blood if they knew that Couture was HIV-positive. After he was told he could not work as a mobile phlebotomist, Couture worked as a laboratory technician for a week, then resigned. The lawsuit contends that Belle Bonfils "broke a contract" and discriminated against Couture under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit seeks unspecified financial damages, including lost wages, benefits and "emotional distress" and requests that Couture be able to resume his original position (Gartner, Associated Press, 12/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.