New York Police Department faces federal lawsuit for discriminating against man with HIV

NYPD car

The New York Police Department is facing legal action from the US Department of Justice, for alleged discrimination against a man with HIV.

Raymond Parker had applied for a desk job as an NYPD communications technician in 2013, and had been given a conditional offer of employment.

However, after undergoing medical checks, the other was withdrawn – with a disqualification notice citing “HIV low CD4 count”. CD4 count is used in HIV-positive people as an indicator of how well their immune system is working.

Mr Parker, 60, argues that nothing in the job description prevents someone living with HIV taking on the role.

The job description states responsibilities: “Serve as 911 emergency call-takers; obtain necessary information from callers in order to initiate emergency service; serve as radio dispatchers of police resources; perform clerical, administrative and other duties related to the provision of emergency service; and perform related work”

After the police department refused to make amends, Mr Parker filed a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – which in turn referred the case to the Department of Justice after determining “reasonable cause to believe that the allegations of discrimination on the basis of disability were true.”

Taking up the case, the Justice Department’s civil rights division has now filed a lawsuit against the NYPD.

Their suit, filed shortly before the Trump administration took power, accuses the police department of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, as having HIV does not prevent Mr Parker from carrying out his duties.

It alleges: “Parker can fully perform the essential functions of the NYPD PCT position with or without an accommodation.

“The NYPD did not provide Parker with a reasonable accommodation. NYPD’s failure to hire Parker because of his disability was an adverse employment action.

“The NYPD did not have a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for failing to hire Parker.”

The Justice Department is urging the court to block the NYPD “from engaging in any act or practice that discriminates against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of disability” like HIV status.

It also calls for “compensatory damages and injunctive relief to Parker as would fully compensate him [for] the NYPD’s discriminatory conduct”.