HIV-positive former police officer wins $90,000 in discrimination case

hiv-positive discrimination

A former police officer in Louisiana will get a $90,000 settlement after he was denied a job as a sheriff’s deputy when he revealed that he was HIV-positive.

Liam Pierce applied for a job with the Iberia parish sheriff’s office in New Iberia, Louisiana, in 2012.

According to his legal representation Lambda Legal, an American civil rights organisation that focuses on the LGBT+ community and people living with HIV and AIDS, Pierce had worked as a paramedic, volunteer firefighter, and police officer, and had moved to Louisiana in 2005 to help after Hurricane Katrina.

Shortly after his interview for the sheriff’s deputy job, Pierce was told that he would be hired. However, following his medical exam in which it was revealed that he was HIV-positive, the sheriff’s office retracted the job offer.

Lambda Legal filed the discrimination lawsuit on Pierce’s behalf in 2017, and after a long battle the legal advocacy group has finally reached a $90,000 settlement.

Scott Schoettes, counsel and HIV project director at Lambda Legal, 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.

“Someone’s HIV status is absolutely irrelevant to their ability to safely perform a job, from the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office to the US Air Force, and using it to deny employment or promotion is discrimination pure and simple.

“This settlement should also serve as a wakeup call to states and cities across the country to remove once and for all outdated and stigmatising HIV criminalisation laws that perpetuate discrimination and ignore current medical science.”

As well as the settlement, the sheriff’s office will have to amend its hiring policy to explicitly state that “discrimination on the basis of disability, including HIV status, is prohibited”, and conduct training with all staff members on HIV.

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.”