HIV Positive hairdresser wins labor and discrimination case against Ricky Reyes

Former Ricky Reyes employee Rene Nocos (in the middle) is flanked by Noel Quinto of Pinoy Plus Foundation (PPF) and Associated Labor Unions (ALU) policy advocacy officer and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines spokesperson Alan Tanjusay (in green polo shirt). Pinoy Plus and ALU-TUCP expressed support to Nocos and commended him for his courage to come out in the public. This photo was taken after the press conference today July 1, 2015. Photo credit to Glenda Ariate of the Associated Labor Unions.

Former Ricky Reyes employee Rene Nocos (in the middle) is flanked by Noel Quinto of Pinoy Plus Foundation (PPF) and Associated Labor Unions (ALU) policy advocacy officer and Trade Union Congress of the Philippines spokesperson Alan Tanjusay (in green polo shirt). Pinoy Plus and ALU-TUCP expressed support to Nocos and commended him for his courage to come out in the public. This photo was taken after the press conference today July 1, 2015. Photo credit to Glenda Ariate of the Associated Labor Unions.

The Philippines’ labor and management mediation-court found popular hairstylist Ricky Reyes and his business associate guilty of discrimination and unlawful termination of their employee — a 47-year old HIV positive hairdresser, the labor group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP)announced yesterday.

Labor and management dispute mediator the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) last week ordered Reyes to reinstate and pay the back wages and benefits of their employee and complainant Renato Nocos including salary differentials, emergency cost of living allowances, mandatory 13th month pay, separation pay and attorney’s fees amounting to a total of P615,313.06.

In a 10-page decision, labor arbiter Joanne G. Hernandez-Lazo said the court found that Reyes and Moreno transferred Nocos to a branch that is about to be bankrupt immediately after learning that the complainant showed symptoms of HIV infection. After the closure of the branch, Nocos was never given any assignment.

“HIV illness is not highly contagious and it is not transmitted through touching, hugging, sneezing, coughing, eating or drinking common utensils or being around an infected person. Thus, the means by which they (Reyes et al) tried to protect their other employees and customers unduly trampled upon the rights of the complainant (Nocos),” the decision said.

Nocos filed a case of discrimination, unlawful termination, non-payment of lawful wages and benefits against Reyes and business partner Tonneth Moreno at NLRC on March 3, 2014 after he was fired on February 28, 2014. Nocos claimed he was fired by Reyes and Moreno after disclosing to them he had HIV.

Moreover, Nocos filed a separate complaint against Reyes and Moreno for not paying his Social Security System (SSS) and Philhealth insurance premiums amid being employed in the company since July 16, 2003.

“There is now a good reason for me to strive harder and get my life back, confident that justice shall reign supreme. On other hand, this victory is an encouragement for those HIV positive human beings like me who are fighting for respect and dignity. Deep in my heart, I’m praying for NLRC to dismiss any appeal. And I’m praying for enlightenment for my boss Mother Ricky,” Nocos said.

On his part, ALU national executive vice president Gerard Seno said: “Oppression like this happens because there are still a great majority in our society whose judgment calls are still guided by their ignorance about HIV and AIDS. Labor unions feel there’s a strong need to combine and connect the old and the new paradigms about HIV and AIDS in order to minimize stigma and discrimination surrounding the phenomenon.”

Nocos sought the help of the labor federation in June last year and disclose himself in public amid the risk of family and social stigma and discrimination in pursuing the case.

Check the background story from this link: http://www.yamsfiles.com/ricky-reyes-terminates-hiv-positive-hairdresser/

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