Human Rights Commission


A man who was HIV positive was discriminated against when an Alexandria franchise of T.G.I. Friday’s terminated him, the Alexandria Human Rights Commission has concluded.

In the case, which was presented before the commission in a public hearing on May 31, former general manager James W. McCray contended that his termination was an act of discrimination based on disability, in violation of a city code which prohibits discrimination in employment. “The Office of Human Rights investigated the allegations and found reasonable cause to believe discrimination had occurred,” said Jean Niebauer, director of the commission.”The claim could not be conciliated.”

In its deliberations, the Commission found unanimously that T.G.I Friday’s and Carlson Restaurants had discriminated against McCray, according to the protections afforded to him under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the city’s Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Commission set forth its facts and reasons for its determination on June 30, and also recommended remedies in the case.

While the commission’s authority is limited with respect to recommending compensatory damages, it is possible that it will recommend other specific remedies, including the levying of civil penalties against Carlson Restaurants, owner of the restaurant. It also determined that McCray may also file a complaint in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Human Rights Commission was created in 1975 to advise the City Council on matters related to human rights affecting the city’s residents, and to oversee the Office of Human Rights. As such, it enforces the Alexandria Human Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on age, race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, sexual orientation, familial status, or disability.