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The BBC's Richard Wells
"The supermarket chain was at first sympathetic"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 April, 2000, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Damages for sacked HIV manager
Supermarket shelves
Bosses said sales could slump over HIV status
A shop manager who was sacked for being HIV positive is to receive thousands of pounds in compensation after reaching a settlement with his former employers.

Mark Hedley, who ran the Aldi supermarket in Seaham, County Durham, was asked to leave because bosses said other staff felt uncomfortable around him.

Mr Hedley, of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, claimed he had been the victim of discrimination and sexual discrimination.

He reached an out-of-court settlement with the German-owned firm shortly before the an employment tribunal hearing was due to get under way in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

A statement released on behalf of both sides said details of the settlement were remaining confidential. It is reported that the level of damages is believed to run to six figures.

'Slump in sales'

Mr Hedley, 34, was earning 34,000 in the post before being forced out.

Evidence lodged by Aldi before the tribunal stated that Mr Hedley's condition could raise concerns with customers and lead to a slump in sales.

The joint statement released after the settlement said: "After constructive discussions between the parties, terms have been agreed between Aldi and Mr Hedley in respect of those allegations and it has been agreed that his employment with Aldi will end by mutual consent.

"The parties have agreed to keep the detail of their agreement confidential."

Settlement welcomed

Mr Hedley's solicitor, Stefan Cross, said his client, who lives in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, would not be commenting on the case or its outcome.

A spokesman for Aldi also declined to comment.

The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), which campaigns on behalf of people with HIV and Aids, has welcomed the settlement.

"This sends a clear message to employers of people living with HIV that discrimination in the workplace is not acceptable," said Lisa Power, assistant director of policy and research.

"Many people living with HIV are working, and with improved treatments many more people will be able to go into employment."

She added: "Independent research carried out for THT shows that one of the greatest barriers for those wanting to return to work was fear of discrimination."

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