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The Practical Employer

The Practical Employer

It's Still Illegal Not to Hire Someone Because They Have HIV

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects HIV as a disability.

March 24, 2014
Related Topics: Legal Compliance, Disabilities, Discrimination and EEOC Compliance, Ethics, Policies and Procedures, Legal

Twenty years ago, Tom Hanks won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Andrew Beckett, a man with AIDS fired by his law firm because of his condition. Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it has filed suit against Maxim Healthcare Services, a Pittsburgh medical staffing company, for its refusal to hire someone because he was HIV-positive.

The EEOC quotes its Philadelphia District Director, Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., “HIV status does not categorically preclude individuals from working in the health care field. Refusing to hire someone because he is living with HIV is not only shameful, it is a blatant violation of federal law.”

He’s absolutely correct. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects HIV as a disability. It’s illegal to refuse to hire someone because of disability. Therefore, if the EEOC can connect the dots, this employer is going to have issues. Don’t make the same mistake. Hire blind. Don’t disqualify someone purely because of a medical condition unless that medical condition prevents that person from performing an essential function of the job that a reasonable accommodate cannot cure.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. Comment below or email  For more information, contact Hyman at (216) 736-7226 or Follow Hyman on Twitter at @jonhyman.

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