Detroit Dental Employee Allegedly Banned From Touching Doorknobs Because He's HIV Positive
Written by Jonathan Higbee |
Friday, 09 December 2011
|Tags: james white, detroit, michigan, midwest, great expressions dental centers, lawsuit, hiv positive, disability, discrimination, aids, health, wtf, dbags|
Following the esteemed Pennsylvania school that denied a student admission because of his HIV status and a new report detailing the gay community's persistent stigmatization of HIV positive men comes more troubling news that makes us question what year it is. The latest chin-scratcher comes courtesy of the Great Expressions Dental Center of Detroit, where an HIV positive employee says he was banned from touching doorknobs and subjected to Lysol spray-downs. Details follow.
After testing positive for HIV, James White felt it was best to come clean to his employer with the news. For the first few weeks following coming out, James's work environment remain unchanged. Then he was called in to the office of the Great Expressions' regional director.
“He said, ‘I hear you have AIDS,’” White says the regional director, a doctor, said to him. White says he explained that he was HIV positive, to which the doctor replied that there was no difference between HIV and AIDS. “He then said it was OK because I did not work in back with the patients.”
And thus began what White says was a seven month decline into hell that “degraded me as a person.”
He says he was prohibited from touching doorknobs in the office. Staff members followed him around with Lysol, spraying and wiping down the surfaces he touched. He was subjected to unexpected changes in his schedule—called and told to come in later than scheduled, or to leave earlier than expected. When he complied with the scheduling offers, he was written up for unexcused absences.
Overwhelmed, James's health declined and required frequent medical attention for a span of a few months. Following treatment, the day before he was to return to work, James was fired for "excessive absences."
“I felt like my character was destroyed,” says James. “I went from wanting to be an activist—someone who spoke to groups about HIV—to someone who didn’t want to leave my room for six months.”
The situation has left James with doctor-verified post-traumatic stress disorder—and the makings for a well-founded lawsuit. His attorneys are preparing to sue Great Expressions for what they say is the "worst case of HIV-related job discrimination" they've ever seen.