Photo: Manager of Several Burger Kings Chris Peña Fired After Informing Supervisor He's HIV Positive
Until September 2011, Christopher Peña served as manager for several Virginia Burger King restaurants, but after 7 years with the company, he says he was fired after informed his supervisor that he is HIV positive.
Peña has now filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming his dismissal violates the American with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a civil rights law which prohibits discrimination based on disability and includes those with HIV.
The 35-year-old found out he was HIV positive in April 2011 and says he fought with himself for months over whether he should inform his supervisors. However, in June 2011, he said he decided to share his status with one of his supervisors just in case his medication’s side effects caused him to need time off of work.
Instead of support or understanding however, Peña says he was fired on Sept. 19, with the company stating his dismissal was a result of performance issues. Peña stated that prior to informing his supervisor of his HIV status, he had never been disciplined, yet afterwards he was and even received a number of critical emails after one of the nine restaurants he oversaw failed an audit.
Burger King maintains Peña’s employment was terminated due to performance issues.
Senior counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Victor Viramontes, is serving as Peña’s lawyer and recently told the Huffington Post that discrimination against HIV-positive Latinos is a growing concern, as those fired usually lose their healthcare benefits.
Latino men are three times as likely as white men to contract HIV, with Latinos overall being disproportionally affected by HIV.
Peña says despite a number of interviews he remains unemployed.