HIV-positive worker awarded $27,000 after being fired
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has awarded a man $27,000 for discrimination based on a disability, because he was denied work for being HIV-positive.
Thomas Malin was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1998 and immediately started taking an antiretroviral "cocktail." His health was good and in 2005 he began working for Ultra Care Cleaning Systems Ltd. helping clean new condos pre-sale and pre-closing. By all accounts he was an exemplary employee.
In July 2009, Malin had a serious gastrointestinal illness and was hospitalized. Due to the severity of his illness he could not take his antiretroviral drugs and his health deteriorated. However, by the end of August 2009, he had recovered and advised his employer he was ready to return to work.
Ultra Care had not been aware that Malin was HIV-positive, but during his absence, a co-worker inadvertently informed the company owner Dean Woronuk. Malin was told there was no work for him and between the end of August 2009 and the end of January 2010 he was given only one day.
There were dramatic financial repercussions. He had to give up his apartment of 10 years. He became depressed and had other physical symptoms requiring ongoing medication.
Malin took his case to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The tribunal did not accept evidence that there was no work available. Woronuk had been in dispute with his Ultra Care partner and set up another company and so claimed there was no work for Malin at Ultra Care. The tribunal heard evidence that the new company employed former Ultra Care employees.
The tribunal awarded Malin $6,877.29 for three months of lost wages, $20,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect and $500 for costs.