Ricky Reyes camp says former employee with HIV “distorted truth” in discrimination case

MANILA, Philippines - Days after celebrity hairstylist and salon chain owner Ricky Reyes was found guilty of “discrimination and unlawful termination” of Renato Nocos, a former employee who tested positive for HIV, his camp has decided to break their silence about the issue.

Ricky Reyes loses in discrimination case filed by an HIV positive former employee.
Ricky Reyes loses in discrimination case filed by an HIV positive former employee. Photo Credit: Gandang Ricky Reyes TODO Na.
In a decision made by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on Saturday, February 6, Reyes’s company Ricky Reyes Corporation was ordered to reinstate Nocos and pay him back salary, benefits, differentials, emergency cost of living allowances, 13th month pay, separation pay and attorney’s fees amounting to P615,313.06.

“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,” the decision of the NLRC said as quoted by Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

But according to the counsel of Ricky Reyes Corp., Marcos Estrada, Reyes appealed the ruling handed down by the NLRC. The Reyes camp insisted that Nocos “distorted the truth”.

Estrada stressed that the company had actually shouldered Nocos’ treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis in 2013 based on the diagnosis he presented to the company at that time. Nocos was asked to go on sick leave with pay and obtain a medical certificate showing that he was still fit to work.

When Nocos returned for work with the medical certificate, he was reassigned to a salon branch on España, Manila. However, Reyes’s business partner Tonneth Moreno noticed Nocos was still coughing prompting him to ask how the employee was able to get a medical certificate declaring him fit.

“It was then that he admitted he also had HIV and that he didn’t tell his doctor he had HIV,” Estrada explained.

As a result, Nocos was asked to take a paid leave and obtain another medical clearance indicating he was fit to work. But according to Reyes’s camp, Nocos didn’t return and went directly to the NLRC to file the complaint.

Estrada added that there’s no reason for Nocos to be dismissed if he was able to come up with a medical clearance saying he was HIV positive since the disease isn’t as contagious as tuberculosis.

Reyes’s lawyer also accused ALU-TUCP of politicking and using Nocos to “boost their candidacy” in the upcoming elections this May. The Reyes camp, according to Estrada, is considering a damage suit against the labor group running in the party-list elections.

- Mini, The Summit Express

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