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2000: Damages for sacked HIV manager

A shop manager who was sacked for being HIV positive is to receive thousands of pounds in compensation.

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

They also said that Mr Hedley's condition could raise concerns with customers and lead to a slump in sales at the store in Seaham.

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

Mr Hedley, 34, was earning 34,000 before being forced to leave.

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

'Message to employers'

A statement released on behalf of both sides said details of the settlement were remaining confidential.

However, the damages are believed to be in the region of 300,000.

A spokeswoman for the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), which campaigns on behalf of people with HIV and Aids, said the settlement sent a clear message to employers.

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

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

In Context
Mark Hedley's compensation was the biggest ever to result from a prosecution under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

The previous highest award under the act was pounds 167,000 to a British Sugar worker with bad eyesight who was made redundant.

In April 2001 a HIV-positive man forced to wear a boiler suit and surgical gloves by his employer received a out-of-court payment of approximately 35,000.

Michael Scott from Newcastle-upon-Tyne received the settlement from the Barker & Stonehouse furniture chain.

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