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Suit alleges the Ivy fired employee diagnosed with HIV

March 29, 2012 |  7:49 pm

The Ivy restaurant

A lawsuit against the Ivy filed Thursday alleges that the prominent Los Angeles restaurant discriminated against and fired an employee on the basis of his physical disability.

The suit, filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, alleges that the Robertson Boulevard restaurant violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act and wrongfully terminated Reymundo Martinez’s employment as a busser after he was diagnosed with a medical condition.

During his five months of employment, Martinez was “fully qualified for his position and was performing his job duties well,” according to the suit. He was diagnosed with HIV in December 2010, and began taking medication that caused strong side effects. He went home sick and “was subsequently asked by management not to come to work for the rest of the week,” according to a statement by MALDEF.

When Martinez returned to work the following week, he was able to perform the “essential job duties” with “reasonable accommodations,” which he requested, and he provided a doctor’s note confirming he was able to work, according to the suit.

The suit charges that in January 2011, the Ivy denied Martinez accommodations, made non-job-related disability inquiries and terminated his employment, “alleging he was unable to professionally carry out his duties.”

“We had no idea he was sick while he was working for us,” Richard Irving, owner of the restaurant, told The Times late Thursday afternoon. “He never told us he was sick. When we let him go, we didn’t know he was sick.”

There was “a normal reason” for the termination of Martinez’s employment, Irving said.

“He worked for us between four and five months; most of our employees worked for years and years,” he said. “I can’t say much more than there was a normal reason that he was let go.”


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Photo: The Ivy restaurant in a 2005 file photo.

Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times