Man sues Schaumburg recruiter, Elgin firm after HIV revealed

Updated 10/19/2018 6:04 PM

A former bilingual customer service representative in Elgin has sued his former employer and job recruiter, arguing they breached his privacy when they disclosed to others that he had the virus that causes AIDS and later fired him.

A 34-year-old Naperville man identified in court records as John Doe seeks damages from Medela of Elgin and the owner of Gotham Professional Services in Schaumburg in a lawsuit filed in Kane County last month.

The suit argues Doe's civil rights were breached and the two companies violated the AIDS Confidentiality Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the state's Human Rights Act.

According to the suit, Doe was hired in March 2017 and placed by Gotham at Medela, which makes and sells breast-feeding products. That April, while completing an application for a permanent position, Doe disclosed to his supervisor he had a disability because he was HIV-positive, according to the suit.

On May 5, at a baby shower for a Medela employee, Doe learned his medical history had been shared by his Medela supervisor, Mary Abraham, with Gotham President Susan Gotham, according to the suit. Three days later, Doe was called into a meeting with Susan Gotham where his HIV-positive condition was discussed without his consent with others, the suit argues.

Later that month, Doe was issued a two-week deadline to meet "unrealistic" sales goals, was suspended May 30, 2017, for lack of performance and fired the next day, according to the suit.

Melisa Quinones, who is Doe's lawyer, said her client took his complaint to the Illinois Human Rights Commission in an effort to settle the dispute.

"Basically, (Medela and Gotham) blamed each other," Quinones said. "None of them came forward to try and resolve the matter."

Quinones noted the state's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reviewed the case of Doe and concluded he had met the burden of proof to move forward on a complaint of discriminatory termination and discrimination due to his condition.

Reached by phone, Gotham said "you don't have all the story" before referring inquiries to her attorney, Patrick Moran, who did not return a phone call seeking comment. Efforts to reach Abraham at Medela were unsuccessful. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, and the parties are due in court Nov. 29.

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