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Tennessee Police Officer Sues Claiming He Was Denied Job Over HIV Diagnosis

Tennessee Police Officer Sues Claiming He Was Denied Job Over HIV Diagnosis

police cars in Nashville
Josie Norris/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

The officer is currently working for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

By Rebekah Riess

(CNN) — A Tennessee police officer has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, claiming “unlawful denial of employment” because of his HIV status, according to the complaint filed Friday in federal court.

The plaintiff, who is a current police officer with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and only identified as “John Doe,” is challenging the legality of what he describes as Nashville’s policy of not employing someone with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as a police officer. The lawsuit argues the policy constitutes a violation of federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act.

In February 2020, the officer received a job offer from Nashville police on the condition that he pass a medical exam, but when his blood work tested positive for HIV, it was rescinded, according to the complaint.

According to the lawsuit, the officer’s own HIV viral load is “fully suppressed and un-transmittable, and he poses no threat of transmission to his co-workers or the community at large.”

The lawsuit argues the policy “in effect” categorically bars anyone living with HIV from serving in the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, “despite medical advancements that render HIV status irrelevant to a person’s ability to perform the duties of a police officer in any capacity.”

When reached for comment, Allison Bussell, with Nashville’s Metropolitan Department of Law, told CNN they had not been served with the lawsuit as of Wednesday morning, and declined to comment on pending litigation.

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