PUBLISHED: 10:09 EST, 8 June 2012 | UPDATED: 12:02 EST, 8 June 2012
A former Hooters waitress was forced to spend a month in quarantine after being diagnosed with tuberculosis which she allegedly contracted from a manager at work.
Since being diagnosed with the life-threatening disease in November Jheri Stratton also had to wear a mask to walk her dog, cancel vacations and is still on an intensive course of medication.
Several other Hooters’ employees at the Harborplace branch in Baltimorealso caught a latent form of the illness from an infected manager.
Compensated: Former Hooters waitress Jheri Stratton, 19, has been compensated by the restaurant company after she contracted tuberculosis from a manager at work. Two days after her pay out was granted she was fired
‘It’s just horrible, there’s nothing else I can say. I just wish none of this had ever happened,’ the pretty 19-year-old told The Baltimore Sun.
Last month Hooters awarded Stratton compensation for lost wages and medical expenses, according to her attorney, Bruce Block.
Stratton described the pay out as a weight lifted off her shoulders.
‘Hooters is acknowledging the fact that this wasn’t something that I just picked up on the MTA,’ she said.
TUBERCULOSIS: KEY FACTS
Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease which typically attacks the victims’ lungs.
If not treated properly it can be fatal.
The disease is spread through the air by infected people coughing, sneezing or speaking and is typically transmitted through prolonged exposure.
The disease often attacks the victims’ lungs but can also affect the kidney, spine and brain.
People with latent tuberculosis cannot spread the infection and often never develop the disease themselves.
The disease affects about 9.2million people each year and kills an estimated 1.7million around the world.
However, on May 22, two days after her workers’ compensation claim was granted, Stratton was fired from her waitress job.
David Henninger, chief marketing officer for Hooters of America, said that there were other issues that led to Stratton’s dismissal, although he refused to go into details.
She had worked at the restaurant since March 2011.
Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease spread through the air by infected people coughing, sneezing or speaking and is typically transmitted through prolonged exposure.
The disease often attacks the victims’ lungs but can also affect the kidney, spine and brain. If not treated properly it can be fatal.
Dr Evelyn Rodriguez, from the Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Disease Control, said that the patrons and public of the restaurant were not at risk of contracting the disease.
However, other Hooters staff were confirmed to have latent tuberculosis, after testings were carried out last October and in March, reported the Baltimore Sun.
People with latent tuberculosis cannot spread the disease.
Baltimore branch: The Harborplace branch of Hooters is one of the chain¿s premier outlets and employs between 75 and 100 ‘Hooters girls’. Several employees were found to have latent tuberculosis in tests in October 2011 and March 2012
Stratton, who lives with her girlfriend, first believed her cough and flu-like symptoms were from smoking and catching a common virus.
She was admitted to hospital in November and then quarantined in her home for a month.
After her quarantine, Stratton returned to work, where she said managers expressed frustration that she wasn’t working at a quicker pace.
She says the medication she was on made her feel nauseous – something her managers showed no sympathy about.
Stratton alleges that the restaurant managers told her not to tell her family about her illness or how she contracted it.
Hooters: Dr Evelyn Rodriguez, from the Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Disease Control, said that the patrons and public of the restaurant, pictured here, were not at risk of contracting the disease
Insurance attorneys for Hooters initially challenged Stratton’s claim and a court hearing was scheduled for June 6. But they dropped this challenge last month.
Compensation commission records show that Stratton will be paid $545 per week missed, as well as compensation for ‘any permanent impairment’ caused by contracting tuberculosis.
Her attorney expressed disbelief that the restaurant was never closed.
‘To hear that the Health Department hadn’t shut down the facility, that nobody knew, that the public wasn’t aware?’ Block said. ‘My client was a waitress, so she certainly was exposed to a lot of people.’
However, Dr Rodriguez said that warning the public or shutting the restaurant down would have been ‘completely unwarranted’ noting the ‘prolonged exposure’ people need to be infected.
She pointed out that the disease can only be spread through the air not via surfaces such as plates or toilet seats.
Stratton claims the disease has damaged her liver. She still has to take 10 pills twice a week. This is down from 10 pills a day she took for a month.
A health official watches to ensure that Stratton is taking her treatment properly.
She is due to finish her medication in August and then plans to pursue studies to become a make-up artist.