Staffing Agency Refused to Hire Qualified Applicant Because He Is HIV Positive, Federal Agency Charges
PITTSBURGH - Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. violated federal law when it refused to hire an HIV-positive applicant because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.
The EEOC charged that Pittsburgh-based Maxim, a staffing service for nurses and other health care professionals, refused to hire a candidate for an assignment that involved sitting with patients at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility because that individual was HIV-positive. According to the lawsuit, the candidate, who is identified in the lawsuit under a pseudonym, had already received an offer of the position from Maxim that was contingent on later completion of a health status certification, which reflected his HIV-positive status but stated he was cleared to work. The lawsuit does not allege any participation by the VA in Maxim's decision to refuse to assign the candidate because of his HIV-positive status.
Refusing to hire someone because of his HIV status violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Maxim Healthcare Services Inc., d/b/a Maxim Staffing Solutions, Civil Action No. 2:14-cv-00338-MRH) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Maxim Healthcare Services from discriminating based on disability, including HIV positive status, equitable relief that provides equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other affirmative relief.
"Once again, an employer involved in the health care field has impermissibly allowed fear and bias to enter into the hiring process," said Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "The ADA clearly prohibits covered employers, including those staffing health care positions, from refusing to hire someone based on disability."
Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. added, "HIV status does not categorically preclude individuals from working in the health care field. Refusing to hire someone because he is living with HIV is not only shameful, it is a blatant violation of federal law."
According to its website, www.maximhealthcare.com, Maxim Healthcare Services is a provider of medical staffing, home health, and wellness services and has more than 360 offices nationwide.
The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.