Alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the ACLU filed this complaint on behalf of an HIV-positive civilian (and former member of the U.S. Army) against the U.S. State Department when he was denied employment solely on the basis of his HIV status. The suit was subsequently settled in August 2009 and, while the details of the settlement agreement are confidential, the ACLU has stated that the State Department has agreed to policy changes that will prevent people living with HIV from being automatically barred from working under department contracts in the future.
The man, who had extensive experience in the field of armed security, sought employment with a private agency that had a contract with the U.S. State Department to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Haiti. After completing the training for employment with the State Department contractor, the man was told that he was disqualified solely on the basis of his HIV status, and without any assessment of his ability to perform the job. The complaint asked the court to find that the State Department’s policy of summarily disqualifying HIV-positive candidates violated both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, and to prohibit the State Department from engaging in discriminatory conduct in the future. The complaint also sought monetary damages, back pay (or front pay if reinstatement is not granted), and attorney’s fees.