A Tennessee woman has filed a Complaint in Davidson County Chancery Court alleging that her employer, Motel 6, did nothing to protect her from harassment based on her HIV positive status–and that she was summarily fired for taking action after the hotel was sold to a franchisee. Friedman & Houlding LLP represents the Plaintiff, Jane Roe, who is proceeding under a pseudonym to protect her personal health information.
Roe worked at a corporate-owned Motel 6 location. When she began taking a medication that could cause dizziness, she informed the two on-site managers about her HIV status so they could take appropriate precautions to protect their own health in the event she fell and was injured on the job.
Roe alleged that one of the managers proceeded to engage in a campaign of harassment based on Roe’s HIV status, including telling numerous coworkers as well as hotel guests that Roe “has AIDS,” telling a pregnant co-worker not to use the employee restroom after Roe, leaving Clorox wipes in the bathroom as a reference to Roe being “unclean,” and mocking Roe by asking about her health, making comments like “you look swollen today, are you sure your health is okay?” Roe alleged that the conduct even escalated to harassing phone calls on the hotel line while Roe was at work.
Roe alleged that she complained to her supervisor about Gentry’s harassment. After several weeks and multiple complaints, the supervisor confirmed that he had passed Roe’s complaint along to Motel 6’s Human Resources representative, who had merely asked why Roe told anyone her HIV status. Motel 6 never took action to stop the harassment, which Roe alleges continued on a daily basis.
Roe alleged that later in the fall, she complained to a Motel 6 corporate manager who was visiting the site to inform the employees that this corporate-owned location was going to be sold to a franchisee in the following month. The manager claimed he would speak with his boss and get back to her – but neither he nor anyone else responded to Roe about her complaints.
Ultimately, the motel was sold to a franchisee operating under the name M6 Goodlettsville LLC. Roe alleged that not long after the sale, she let one of the franchise owners know that she may have an upcoming lawsuit against corporate Motel 6. Within days, Roe was fired, with the company unwilling to give her any reason. Even when she arrived to pick up her final check, Roe alleges–as corroborated by the discharge recording she made of this conversation –that her supervisor assured her that she was a good worker and was not being fired for any performance problems.
Ms. Roe alleged that she was severely distressed by the harassment, as well as the inaction on her complaints, forcing her to seek counseling. Her Complaint includes claims against Motel 6 for a hostile work environment and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and against franchisee M6 Goodlettsville LLC for retaliation. She is prepared to vindicate her rights as an HIV-positive worker, who only seeks to contribute her skills and energy in the workplace like any other employee. The matter is currently also before the Equal Opportunity Commission, where we await a finding.