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HIV-Positive Man Sues to be a Cop

HIV-Positive Man Sues to be a Cop

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A man who applied to be an officer for the Atlanta Police Department is appealing the decision in the lawsuit he filed after he was denied employment due to being HIV-positive.

The man, whose suit uses the alias Richard Roe, applied to work for the department in 2006. According to Lambda Legal, which is providing Roe with legal assistance, he found out that he was HIV-positive during a pre-employment medical exam. The doctor who administered the exam told him that the positive result disqualified him from joining the police department. Roe subsequently sued the department, citing antidiscrimination protections from the Americans With Disabilities Act and the federal Rehabilitation Act.

The city said it did not consider HIV to be a disqualifying condition for police officers, but then it argued that Roe could not show he was qualified to perform the job and that a police officer with HIV could present a "direct threat to the health and safety of others." A U.S. district court ruled in the city's favor, saying Roe had not produced enough evidence to prove that his condition is not a threat to others.

Roe, now 39, and his legal team have filed an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal's southern regional office in Atlanta, and Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal's HIV Project director, are handling the case.

"The City of Atlanta is talking out of both sides of its mouth. They claim that having HIV doesn't prevent someone from becoming a police officer; then they walk into court and say that it does," Nevins said in a statement Wednesday. "It was unfair for the district court to allow the Atlanta Police Department to get away with this, especially when the available science supports our client."

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Editor

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.