Lambda Legal filed an appeal in December in the case of a federal employee denied employment as a foreign service officer at the U.S. State Department because of his HIV infection. Lorenzo Taylor was told by the State Department he would not be hired, despite having easily passed the rigorous foreign service application process, because of the possibility he could be stationed in a country without adequate HIV care.
Taylor filed suit in late 2002, saying the policy violates the federal Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits the federal government from discriminating against people with disabilities. A federal district court judge ruled in favor of the State Department in 2005.
Lambda's appeal argues that the Rehabilitation Act requires the State Department to make reasonable accommodations for HIV-positive applicants otherwise qualified for employment, much as it already does for foreign service workers who become infected with HIV after being hired.
'Lorenzo Taylor is being denied the job of his dreams after years of preparing for it, based on a 20-year-old policy that bans every person with HIV regardless of overall health,' says Jonathan Givner, director of Lambda Legal's HIV Project. 'Given his long history of excellent health, this makes no sense.'
Taylor's case was profiled in the cover story of the May 2004 edition of HIV Plus.