Company fires HIV positive woman from job, court asks firm to let her resume

Dec 03, 2018, 17:45 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

The 31- year- old woman had claimed she was fired from her job after she submitted a medical report for reimbursement that mentioned she was HIV positive

Company fires HIV positive woman from job, court asks firm to let her resume
Representational Pic

The labour court has directed a pharmaceutical firm to pay back an employee’s full wages, restore continuity of service and consequential benefits, after it fired her on finding her to be HIV positive.

The 31- year- old woman had claimed she was fired from her job after she submitted a medical report for reimbursement that mentioned she was HIV positive. She fought a court battle for over two years.

The woman who hails from Kolhapur, was married to a Pune- based man in 2002.

Two years after the marriage she found that her husband was HIV positive. He died in 2006. She also found that she was HIV positive. Her in- laws threw her out of their house and her parents abandoned her. She then decided to undergo treatment for HIV. She also decided not to disclose the matter to anyone. She began to work with a pharmaceutical company, Centaur Pharmaceuticals Limited at Hinjewadi, as a junior operator ( production).

Reports led to trouble In April 2015, she was admitted to a Pune hospital, then to a hospital in Kolhapur and again in Pune for an ear ailment. The company had sanctioned her medical leave for three months. She said, “ In July 2015 I resumed work, and in order to get mediclaim I submitted some reports, in one of which it was mentioned that I was HIV positive.

I had submitted the reports on August 4, 2015 at 12 noon and that evening I was asked to leave the job, as I was not physically and mentally fit. I was so desperate that I pleaded with them to give me an alternative job in the housekeeping department. But they refused and took my signature on a blank paper and paid me an additional one month’s salary.” She managed to find a lawyer, Vishal Jadhav, who took up her case. She said, “ I took up a sales person’s job and now am working for ` 8,000 in a footware shop.” ‘ Fired due to absenteeism’ Centaur Pharmaceuticals’ lawyer N P Noronha denied all allegations and informed the court that they got to know of the woman’s status as HIV positive from other employees.

He argued, “ It is not because of her HIV positive status but due to absenteeism that she was fired, as the company has a no tolerance policy towards absenteeism.

The company had gone out of the way to help her, giving unplanned leave and had even regularised it.” Jadhav said, “ If this was the case why wasn’t notice issued to her prior to taking such a step? And if she gave her resignation, as per the Industrial Dispute Act, one month’s notice period needs to be served.”

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