When Chanse Cox told his boss he was HIV-positive, he never expected to lose his job.
Cox was working as a machine operator at Gregory Packaging, a juice production plant in the US state of Georgia, and found himself at the centre of false rumours that he had an Aids-related skin condition. The skin problem was harmless, but the gossip was sparking unfounded concerns that he could transmit HIV in the workplace. So he decided the best way to put an end to the malicious buzz was to acknowledge to his manager that he was, in fact, HIV-positive.
His condition didn’t affect his job performance so Cox felt his job was safe. Nevertheless, the company fired Cox, citing a government regulation addressing food safety and communicable diseases. He knew he wasn’t putting anyone at risk, so he filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency sued the company for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects those living with HIV from discrimination.