Lorenzo Taylor, an aspiring diplomat, has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and the State Department for rejecting him for a job because of his HIV status, Agence France-Presse reports. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, claims Taylor was illegally turned down for a job in the U.S. Foreign Service based on his medical status.
"There's no question that Lorenzo Taylor is extremely qualified to do this work and that he would do it well," said Jonathan Givner, a lawyer for New York-based Lambda Legal, a gay legal services organization. Taylor is reportedly fluent in three languages and received high marks on the State Department's written and oral examinations. "But because he has HIV, none of that matters to the federal government," Givner said. "[Taylor] was rejected by the State Department because he has HIV."
The lawsuit claims the State Department is violating federal laws prohibiting hiring discrimination against people with disabilities. The State Department had no comment regarding the lawsuit but did note that the Foreign Service prohibits the hiring of employees with HIV because staff members must be able to serve in any country in the world, including those where HIV care is scarce or unavailable or where HIV-positive visitors are barred.