EEOC sues staffing firm, alleges disability discrimination

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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 charged in a lawsuit it announced yesterday.

Staffing Industry Analysts ranks Maxim as the fifth-largest healthcare staffing firm in the U.S.

The EEOC charged that Maxim refused to hire a candidate for an assignment that involved sitting with patients at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility because that individual was HIV-positive.  According to the lawsuit, the candidate 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.

The EEOC filed the suit 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, according to the EEOC.

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.

“HIV status does not categorically preclude individuals from working in the healthcare field,” said Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr.

“Maxim Healthcare Services takes this matter very seriously,” said Maxim Spokesperson Rebecca Kirkham. “Our practices and policies are consistent with applicable law. Due to the ongoing litigation, we are not able to provide further information at this time.”

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