Court reinstates HIV discrimination lawsuit against American Airlines
A federal court on Friday reinstated a lawsuit filed by three flight attendants against American Airlines for HIV-related job discrimination, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The lawsuit by the three California men claims that American Airlines withdrew job offers as flight attendants because the men did not disclose to the airline that they are HIV-positive. The men received job offers in 1998 and 1999 from the airline contingent upon the results of medical examinations and background checks, and after blood tests revealed the three men were infected with HIV, American Airlines withdrew the job offers.
The airline claims the job offers were rescinded because the men failed to disclose their HIV statuses on medical history questionnaires. The lawsuit claims that American Airlines violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act by requiring that the men provide their medication information before background checks were completed and jobs were offered. The lawsuit also claims the blood tests were conducted without the consent of the three men and as such violated privacy rights guaranteed under the California constitution.
The lawsuit had been dismissed in 2003 by a U.S. district court judge, but ninth U.S. circuit court of appeals judge Raymond Fisher reinstated the lawsuit, claiming in his written opinion that "American cannot require applicants to disclose personal medical information--and penalize them for not doing so--before it assures them that they have successfully passed through all nonmedical stages of the hiring process." He also said that although the three men consented to preemployment blood tests, they did not consent to "any and all medical tests American wished to run on the blood samples."
The plaintiffs' attorney, Todd Schneider, told the Chronicle that Fisher's decision to reinstate the lawsuit will "protect the privacy of all people with hidden disabilities."