State Department Changes Policy Barring HIV-Positive Individuals from Working With State Department Contractors

A U.S. Army veteran denied a security job with a U.S. State Department contractor because he is HIV-positive has reached a settlement with the State Department that includes policy changes preventing people living with HIV from being automatically barred from working under State Department contracts in the future.

A U.S. Army veteran denied a security job with a U.S. State Department contractor because he is HIV-positive has reached a settlement with the State Department. The individual, known as “Doe,” in his complaint, filed a suit against the State Department in September 2008 with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, after he was denied employment under a State Department policy that automatically barred people living with HIV from working under State Department contracts. The complaint, which is available in the Resource Bank, argued that the policy violated the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

While the details of the settlement are confidential, the ACLU has confirmed that the State Department has agreed to policy changes that will prevent people living with HIV from being automatically barred from working under State Department contracts in the future.

The case reflects a promising trend in the Obama administration’s approach to its responsibilities under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. In July, the Department of Justice issued new guidelines to state licensing boards and occupational training schools unambiguously stating that the exclusion of people with HIV/AIDS from occupational training and trades that require state licensing violates federal antidiscrimination law. In the fact sheet, available on the resource bank, the DOJ directed state licensing boards and trade schools to amend their policies to state that any certification requirement that references infectious or communicable diseases excludes diseases, such as HIV, that are not transmitted through casual contact or through the usual practice of the occupations for which license is required.

CHLP applauds Doe’s persistence and the ACLU’s hard work on this case that brought about this important policy change.