HIV-Positive Cop Applicant's Discrimination Claim Reinstated

By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has one of the fastest hearing-to-decision turnaround times in the country. When this appellate court decides that an injustice has occurred, it moves quickly.

Last week, the Atlanta-based court heard arguments in an HIV-positive cop applicant's discrimination claim. Wednesday, the court ruled for the appellant, finding that he could pursue his discrimination claim against the Atlanta Police Department for denying his application based on his HIV status, reports the Associated Press.

The appellant, who filed under the pseudonym "Richard Roe," claimed that a doctor who conducted his pre-employment medical exam as part of his application said that he "could not be employed in a position in which he had any contact with the public" because he was HIV-positive, and that he had "failed" his medical exam, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A district court previously granted summary judgment to the Atlanta PD on the claim, finding that that Roe could not establish that he was a qualified individual because he couldn't prove he did not pose a direct threat because of his HIV status, and because he failed to prove that he was a qualified individual wholly aside from whether he posed such a direct threat.

Roe claimed that the latter criterion never should have been considered because the city had not raised it. The Eleventh Circuit agreed and vacated the decision, noting in an unpublished opinion that "the city did not raise the issue of qualifications beyond its argument that he was a direct threat."

Roe's discrimination claim, however, is far from resolved. He now returns to the district court for a hearing, and could find himself in front of the Eleventh Circuit once more if the outcome of the trial is appealed.

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