EEOC Files Suit Against Union That Allegedly Disclosed Member’s HIV-Positive Status
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit in federal court against Teamsters Local 804 in Long Island City, N.Y., over a union officer's alleged disclosure of a member's HIV-positive status, Long Island Newsday reports. According to EEOC, a union officer disclosed to a member's co-workers at a UPS location in Manhattan where they worked that the member was HIV-positive. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, seeks punitive damages and back pay for several weeks of work missed by the employee because he was "too upset to work," according to Newsday. The employee took time off and was "distraught" after co-workers began to avoid him and "constantly asked how he was feeling" after learning his HIV status. EEOC filed the lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act after the HIV-positive employee filed a complaint with the agency in 2002. According to the suit, the union discriminated against the employee "on the basis of disability by disclosing the fact that he has AIDS," according to Newsday. Adela Santos, the EEOC trial attorney litigating the case, said that previous court rulings have been "inconclusive" about whether it is legal to disclose confidential information about disabilities, Newsday reports. She added that EEOC "takes the position that it should be confidential." Richard Brook, the union's lawyer, declined to comment, according to Newsday (Mason-Draffen, Long Island Newsday, 4/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.