Udayavni Special

Woman fired for being HIV+ gets back job after 3 years


Team Udayavani, Dec 5, 2018, 9:59 AM IST

Pune: Three years after a city-based woman was terminated for being HIV positive, a labour court here has ordered her former employer to reinstate her and clear all back wages.

The order was passed in October this year in which Kalpana Phatangare, presiding officer of the labour court, asked the pharmaceutical firm to reinstate the woman and award “full back wages and continuity of service and consequential benefits”.

The woman had approached the court through her lawyer Vishal Jadhav.

According to her submission to the court, she was forced to resign in 2015 after submitting medical documents to seek benefits of mediclaim following her diagnosis.

She said that the HR officials pressurised and coerced her to resign after coming to know that she was HIV positive, despite her telling them that she was mentally and physically fit and taking all precautions while working.

The woman further said she succumbed to the pressure of the HR department and was made to write a resignation letter as per their dictation.

The woman told the court that since she was a widow, she needed the job.

“She is in need of the job and requirement of the community support, economic support and non-discrimination, but the company discriminated against her as she was a HIV positive person,” her application read.

According to the woman, her husband was diagnosed with HIV in 2004 and died two years later. After going for a medical checkup, she too was diagnosed with it.

In spite of the shocking revelation, she decided to live with self-esteem, confidence and dignity, and was taking proper medical and counselling from government and NGOs, the woman said.

Her counsel told the court that the reason for the termination given on the document by the firm is ‘absenteeism’, although she was forced to resign because she was HIV positive.

The company, however, claimed in the court that she had resigned on her own and availed all the benefits such as gratuity, bonus and leave encashment while leaving.

While passing the order, Phatangare said, “In such circumstances, the only inference that can be drawn is that she was made to tender her resignation forcibly. In short, it can be said that it was not a resignation, but it was termination on the part of the company.” 

“On the ground of discrimination, as the second party was HIV positive, the company is dealing with medicines and providing the same all over the world while in circumstances it is not good on its part to take such a decision and victimise the woman in such a way,” Phatangare added.

“Hence, in my view present reference needs to be considered on ground mentioned by the woman in her statement of claim,” she said further.

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