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New Trial Ordered in |HIV Discrimination Case

(CN) - A Wendy's cashier will get another chance to prove that she was fired for being HIV-positive after a ruling by a Florida appeals court.

When she was hired, Cameshia Byrd allegedly told her supervisors about her HIV status. She said she often missed work due to her symptoms, but would return each time with a note from her doctor.

This arrangement allegedly worked for seven months, until her supervisor refused to accept her doctor's letter, calling it a fake.

The supervisor, Rose Johnson, testified that Byrd did not give her a proper doctor's note but a slip of paper with the phone number of Byrd's doctor. Johnson said she would have welcomed Byrd back to work had she submitted a proper note.

Byrd complained to the Broward County Civil Rights Division (BCCRD), which concluded that the Wendy's franchise, BT Foods Inc., did not violate Byrd's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Byrd then sued BT Foods and its owner, Thomas Miko for HIV discrimination. The trial court ruled for the franchise, but the judges of the Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach reversed.

They found that the division's conclusion was prejudicial and should not have been entered into evidence.

"The conclusory nature of the BCCRD's determination letter left it with little probative value when compared to the substantial prejudicial effect it may have had on the jury's ultimate assessment of Byrd's credibility and the pivotal determination as to whether Byrd had indeed provided a doctor's note to her employer," the judges wrote, remanding the case for a new trial.

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