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Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: Is HIV a disability under the ADA? Can I be turned down for a job because I’m disabled? Can I be fired because I’m disabled? Who is the best wrongful termination lawyer in Ohio?

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All employees are protected under Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. These laws also prohibit employers from making pre-employment, disability-related inquiries of job applicants.

These HIV disability questions were address in Gardea v. Dialamerica Mktg:

[Disability law] defines a disability as “a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity of that individual, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.” … A major life activity is defined … to include “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.” Id. § 21.002(11-a). Moreover, the [law] was amended in 2009 to reflect Congress’ expansion of the ADA, as codified in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”). One purpose of the ADAAA was to “make it easier for people with disabilities to obtain protection under the ADA” by broadly construing the “definition of ‘disability.’” 29 C.F.R. § 1630.1(c)(4). Additionally, the term “substantially limits” found in … the ADAAA is to be “construed broadly in favor of expansive coverage, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA. ‘Substantially limits’ is not meant to be a demanding standard.” …

In this case, Plaintiff has offered evidence that his HIV condition affects major life activities. Plaintiff has indicated that HIV affects his sleep, work hours, and mental functions. See Pl.’s Aff. 1. Sleeping, working, and mental functions, such as thinking, are all major life activities. See Lab. § 21.002(11-a) (defining sleeping, working, concentrating, and thinking as major life activities)… Moreover, Plaintiff has offered sufficient evidence that his HIV condition affects at least one of these major life activities—that is, his sleeping—in a substantially limiting manner. Plaintiff indicates that he is “unable to sleep” because of his illness. Pl.’s Aff. 1… Therefore, the Court finds that a reasonable jury could conclude that Plaintiff is disabled because he has presented sufficient evidence indicating that HIV substantially limits his ability to sleep.

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However, there are some cases that have held the HIV is not an actual disability, including Worster v. Carlson Wagon Lit Travel, Inc., and Williams v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

Recently, a Popeye’s Chicken franchisee has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of an HIV-positive applicant who Popeye’s refused to hire because of his disability. Specifically, the disability discrimination complaint alleged that Popeye’s refused to hire Noah Crawford for a position after learning that he was HIV positive even though Crawford had years of experience in the fast food industry.

During his interview for the position, Crawford was asked about the reason he left his prior employer, a question that likely arose because Crawford had put on his Popeye’s application that he left his prior employer due to a “medical” reason. When asked by the general manager of Popeye’s what the “medical” condition was, he disclosed that he had HIV. When Crawford disclosed this fact, Popeye’s immediately informed him that he could not work there due to his medical condition. Importantly, the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code does not list HIV as a disease transmissible through food supply.

Probably wisely so, Popeye’s has agreed to settle this matter, and in addition to the $25,000 monetary settlement, Popeye’s will also submit to additional training.

In the end, the above only demonstrates that this is a complicated area of law.

Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.

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