Lambda Legal's 'Blow the Whistle on Workplace Discrimination' Campaign Launches Action Against Nodak Enterprises for Firing Employee Because He Has HIV
"Discrimination is bad for business, and Nodak Enterprises needs to get that message loud and clear."
(Atlanta, February 16, 2005) — Lambda Legal today launched a nationwide drive to mobilize its members and the public to urge Nodak Enterprises not to discriminate against employees with HIV. Nodak, a major auto-glass retailer in several southern states, fired highly skilled glass installer Joey Saavedra because he has HIV.
Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in May 2004 on behalf of Saavedra, saying Nodak violated the American with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities if they pose no real risk to themselves or others. The public action launched against the company today is part of Lambda Legal’s ongoing "Blow the Whistle on Workplace Discrimination" campaign, which has successfully engaged the public in educating employers about the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those with HIV in the workplace.
"Discrimination is bad for business, and Nodak Enterprises needs to get that message loud and clear," said Michael Adams, Director of Education and Public Affairs at Lambda Legal. "We’re mobilizing the public to tell Nodak Enterprises that all employees should be judged based on how they do the job, not based on groundless fears and stereotypes." Lambda Legal issued web-based action alerts today that let people quickly send letters to Richard West, head of Nodak Enterprises, urging him to end the company’s discrimination against people with HIV.
Saavedra is a skilled auto-glass installer who has worked in the industry for nearly 27 years. When he was hired at Nodak Enterprises as an auto-glass installer, Saavedra told his direct supervisor that he had HIV. Three months later, after news of his HIV status made its way up to the company’s leadership, Saavedra was fired -- even though he did his job well and his direct supervisor wanted to keep him on staff. As an auto-glass installer, Saavedra traveled to customers’ cars, primarily to repair or replace windshields. As is customary in this field, Saavedra performed his duties alone.
Nodak Enterprises operates 42 retail stores under the names Auto Glass Service and Service Auto Glass in seven southern states. The company is headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Lambda Legal’s "Blow the Whistle on Workplace Discrimination" campaign has already resulted in a number of groundbreaking employment victories for LGBT people and those with HIV. Cirque du Soleil enacted new policies and training and paid a record settlement last year after Lambda Legal’s months-long campaign on behalf of a gymnast who was fired by Cirque because he had HIV. Earlier this year, Lambda Legal won critical policy and training changes from Foot Locker as the result of a lawsuit and campaign on behalf of a gay man who was severely harassed and discriminated against when he worked at two South Carolina stores.
In the next few months, Lambda Legal will hold several town hall meetings on employment discrimination in cities around the country. The first one is set for Reno, Nevada on Tuesday, March 15.
To learn more about the action on behalf of Joey Saavedra visit ga4.org/campaign/saavedra.
C. Michael Bozeman, co-counsel, joins Lambda Legal’s attorneys on this case.
Contact: Lisa Hardaway, 212-809-8585 ext.266
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.