By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com August 25 2009 6:40 AM ET
A U.S. Army veteran settled out of court with a federal contractor after it denied him a job because he is HIV-positive.
The U.S. State Department, which contracts with the company that denied employment to the man -- whose name was withheld -- has agreed to policy changes that will prevent people with HIV from being automatically barred from working under department contracts in the future, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU filed the case in September 2008 against the State Department and one of its contractors, Triple Canopy Inc. The suit claimed that John Doe, as he is identified in court documents, was illegally fired, violating the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
A day before he finished training for a job providing security for the Haitian embassy, Doe was told by a director for Triple Canopy that he could not be employed because the State Department would not allow workers with HIV to be deployed overseas. The department also mandated that all contractor personnel be free from communicable diseases.
Doe is a 20-year veteran of the military who was diagnosed with HIV in 2000. He retired in 2001, and did contract work with the U.S. Defense Department from 2004 to 2005, where he led security teams on military bases. According to the ACLU, both the Army and the Defense Department were aware of his HIV status and he was still able to serve as a contractor in Iraq.
"I'm relieved that I can finally put this experience behind me and move on with my life," the veteran said in a statement. "I feel a lot better knowing that this kind of discrimination shouldn't happen again."