In 2011, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought suit against Popeyes Chicken for refusing to hire a man, Noah Crawford, because he has HIV. The fried chicken franchise, based in Shreveport, Louisiana, will pay $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.
Noah Crawford had years of experience working in the fast-food industry, and he applied for a job at a Popeyes in Texas. The application asked for a reason why he left his previous job, and Crawford wrote e. “medical.” During his interview, Crawford was asked what the medical reason was. When he responded “HIV,” he was told that he could not work for Popeyes because of his condition.
Notably, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Code does not list HIV as a disease transmissible through the food supply.
The EEOC brought this suit on behalf of Crawford soon after, alleging that Popeyes refused to hire him because of his disability. Refusing to hire someone with a disability is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it illegal for employer to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in the hiring process. The ADA also prohibits employers from making pre-employment disability-related inquiries of job applicants.
In court filings, Popeyes argued that its actions were based on “legitimate, nondiscriminatory business purposes unrelated to any purported conduct or protected status.” Popeyes additionally argued that Crawford was not a qualified individual with a disability as defined by the ADA and that the company’s actions were “not intentional, malicious, willful or reckless.”
In addition to the monetary settlement, Popeyes has agreed to provide training on the Americans with Disabilities Act for all managers, area supervisors and human resources personnel.
The settlement follows the policy behind President Barack Obama’s charge to federal agencies to implement the National HIV/AIDS strategy, which includes eliminating barriers to employment for people living with the disease.