Lawsuit alleges restaurant fired man for being HIV positive

TEXARKANA, Texas - A federal lawsuit filed in Texarkana last week alleges a man was fired from his job at a local restaurant and bar because he is HIV positive.

Nicholas Watson, who no longer lives in the area, filed suit Tuesday against Hopkins Icehouse Holdings LLC in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. Watson alleges he was fired in March 2019 by a manager who told him it was his HIV status that led to his termination.

A spokesman for Hopkins said the Gibson Lane property is now leased and operates under a different name and management though it operated as a Hopkins Icehouse restaurant in March 2019. The spokesman declined to comment on the allegation and said Hopkins has not been served with a copy of the complaint.

According to a copy of Watson's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint attached as an exhibit, Watson was working at the Hopkins Icehouse on Gibson Lane in Texarkana, Texas, when the general manager allegedly referred to his disability and said, "We're worried it's going to affect business, like revenue."

Watson claims he was able to perform his job safely and without any accommodation for his disability.

Watson alleges his firing violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and was undertaken with "malice or reckless indifference" to his federally protected rights.

He is seeking compensation for back pay, front pay, loss of fringe benefits, loss of bonuses and other costs. The complaint asks for punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs as well.

McKinney, Texas, lawyer Lennie Bollinger filed the suit on Watson's behalf. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III.