A Louisiana police officer recently won a lawsuit over claims he was turned down for a deputy position because of his HIV status.
Discrimination has many faces. From gender and pregnancy discrimination to age and sexual orientation discrimination, there are many ways people may encounter discrimination throughout their daily lives, even during job interviews. For example, William ‘Liam’ Pierce was recently awarded a $90,000 settlement, ending a lawsuit he filed against the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office after he was turned down for a job as a sheriff’s deputy over his HIV status. In addition to the settlement funds, he will also get a “guarantee that the office will change its policies toward HIV-positive employees.”
As a result, Pierce filed a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an investigation into the matter. The agency determined that “evidence supported Pierce’s claims against the sheriff’s office.” From there, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in October 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana against the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s office.
As part of the lawsuit settlement, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s office also agreed to “change its hiring policies to include an explicit statement that discrimination on the basis of disability, including HIV status, is prohibited; conduct mandatory training on HIV education, and add an HIV discrimination component in new-hire and annual civil rights/non-discrimination training.” When commenting on the recent settlement, Pierce said:
“I immediately knew that the Sheriff’s decision not to hire me was based on my HIV status, and though it was a long journey, it feels good to finally be vindicated. I hope that my case helps others avoid going through my experience and demonstrates to other employers that living with HIV has nothing to do with our ability to do any job.”
Scott Schoettes, a counsel and the HIV project director at Lambda Legal, chimed in and said:
“This settlement is a lesson to all employers across the country that HIV discrimination in the workplace is completely unlawful and has no place anywhere…This settlement should also serve as a wakeup call to states and cities across the country to remove once and for all outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws that perpetuate discrimination and ignore current medical science.”