May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013
Tennessee Man Claims BellSouth Fired Him Over HIV

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Wednesday and we have almost made through the middle of another work week. I hope you are having a beary safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

A Nashville man filed a $1.5 million complaint against AT&T and BellSouth Telecommunications in U.S. District Court in Nashville on Wednesday for disclosing that he has HIV and then later firing him.

Eric L. Joyner says his firing from BellSouth in August 2009 came after a long battle of harassment and embarrassment from fellow co-workers after he revealed his condition to his supervisor in the fall of 2007, according to the complaint.

Joyner, who was diagnosed in 2003, had been working for BellSouth (which merged with AT&T in 2007) as a customer service representative since 2005. Joyner applied for and was granted several monthsí leave in 2007 under the Family and Medical Leave Act for a serious prostate condition. That fall, his supervisor approached him and told him that her fellow supervisors were considering firing him for his medical condition. Thatís when he told her about his prostate problem and that he has HIV.

Disclosure of his disease was followed by harassment by Joynerís supervisor, the complaint said. The complaint also says that she told co-workers about his disease and that Joyner may be homosexual.

Joyner reported to the BellSouth hotline about his supervisorís actions and the complaint speculates that his call led to her demotion and suspension. Yet, the hostile work environment remained.

Joyner applied for FMLA again because of emotional distress and was placed on short-term disability for a couple of months after being admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in July 2008.

In 2009, Joyner was ordered by his physicians to rest under FMLA because of his emotional state. After three weeks in the hospital, he then filed a charge to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for disability discrimination and retaliation by BellSouth.

In August 2009, after another FMLA stint, BellSouth fired Joyner for excessive absences and tardiness. Thatís when he filed another charge against AT&T with the EEOC for retaliation.

Unfortunately, I can not say I am surprised. I have known some other employees at BellSouth who have complained to me about the same issue. And it is a shame that companies are still doing this in 2013. We must stand up to this kind of treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS so I would suggest you get in contact with their national office and voice your complaint.

Hope you have a beary safe and great Wednesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab