New Trial Begins in Case of Former McDonald’s Employee Claiming Company Discriminated Based on HIV-Positive Status
A new trial began on Monday in the case of a former Ohio McDonald's employee who claims the fast-food chain pressured him to resign in 1997 because of his HIV-positive status, the Akron Beacon Journal reports (Wheeler, Akron Beacon Journal, 6/21). Russell Rich, who had worked at McDonald's for 20 years and was employed as a manager when he resigned, first sued the corporation in October 1998, saying supervisors had altered his duties after he complained about a "hostile work environment." Rich, who has AIDS, in 2001 won a $5 million verdict against McDonald's, but a three-judge panel of the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals in October 2003 overturned the award, ruling that the company did not receive a fair trial. McDonald's offered to settle out of court for $300,000, but Paige Martin, Rich's attorney, said the offer was inadequate (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/15/03). McDonald's denies the charges, saying it does not tolerate discrimination. William Whitman, a spokesperson for the chain, said in a statement on Friday, "Mr. Rich's allegations against McDonald's are simply not supported by the facts," adding, "We firmly believe, once we have an opportunity to present the facts in court, we will show that Mr. Rich's case against McDonald's is completely without merit" (Milicia, AP/Washington Post, 6/20). Judge John Patton, a retired judge from Ohio's 8th District Court of Appeals, began proceedings in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and placed a gag order on Rich and the attorneys. Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday (Akron Beacon Journal, 6/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.