HIV-positive former employee sues blood center

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 17 2002 1:00 AM ET

A former employee of Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Center in Denver is suing the center for discrimination, claiming that he lost his job because he is HIV-positive. The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. district court, states that John Couture, who was hired by the center in August 2001 as a phlebotomist, was first asked and later forced to take a different job because his supervisors learned that he was HIV-positive. Couture's position required contact with blood donors and frequent travel and had opportunities for advancement. Couture said he was pressured to take a laboratory technician job because the center was "concerned" that people "might be afraid" to donate blood if they knew that Couture was HIV-positive. He worked in the new job for one week, then resigned. The lawsuit claims that Belle Bonfils discriminated against Couture under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The suit demands that Couture be rehired to his original position and seeks unspecified damages.