U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Fighting Discrimination Against Persons With Hiv/Aids
Fighting discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS is a top
priority of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
Following are highlights of the Division's efforts to protect the
rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS under the Americans with
Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.
Emergency Medical Treatment
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- The Department resolved a complaint
against the City of Philadelphia alleging that the City's
emergency medical technicians (EMTs) had refused to assist an
individual who they learned had HIV. Under the agreement, the
City will no longer refuse to provide emergency services to
individuals with disabilities. It will also discipline any
employee who fails to follow the City's guidelines and will train
the fire department's 2,300 EMTs and firefighters on ways to
prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. In addition, the City will
pay $10,000 in compensatory damages and issue a written apology
to the complainant.
New Orleans, Louisiana -- A Federal court in Louisiana ruled in
United States v. Morvant that a dentist, Dr. Drew Morvant,
violated the ADA by referring persons with HIV or AIDS to another
dentist, solely on the basis of the patients' HIV-positive
status. The court ordered Morvant to no longer discriminate
against persons with HIV or AIDS, to adopt and post a policy of
nondiscrimination on the basis of disability, including HIV and
AIDS, and to undergo training concerning HIV and the practice of
dentistry. Under a consent order, Morvant also agreed to pay
$60,000 in damages to the family of Ismael Pena, now deceased,
who was one of the individuals denied services because he had
AIDS, and $60,000 to another patient who had been denied services
because of his HIV-positive status.
East Hartford, Connecticut -- The Department settled a complaint
against a dental practice in East Hartford, Connecticut, alleging
that the dentists refused to treat an individual because he had
AIDS. Under the agreement, Doctors David, Schulman, and
Weinstein paid $20,000 in compensatory damages to the estate of
the complainant, and $9,000 in civil penalties. They also agreed
to implement and publicize a policy of nondiscrimination on the
basis of HIV and AIDS.
Houston, Texas -- Under a consent decree resolving a suit brought
by the Department, Castle Dental Center, a large chain of dental
offices in the Houston area, agreed to pay $80,000 in
compensatory damages for refusing to treat a patient who revealed
that he was HIV-positive. The owner of the Center and its
management company also each agreed to pay $10,000 in civil
penalties to the Federal Government. The agreement requires the
defendants to provide full and equal services to persons with HIV
or AIDS, train their staff in the nondiscriminatory treatment of
persons with HIV or AIDS, and send periodic reports to the
Department so that compliance with the order can be monitored.
Bangor, Maine -- In Abbott v. Bragdon, the Department has
intervened as a party to defend the constitutionality of the ADA
and is participating as a friend of the court on the merits of
the case. The plaintiff in the case, Sidney Abbott, has alleged
that the defendant, Dr. Bragdon, violated the ADA by refusing to
provide her routine dental care on the basis of her HIV-positive
status. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment, and
oral argument was held in October 1995.
Marshall County, Mississippi -- The Department settled two
complaints involving the discharge of volunteer firefighters.
One complainant alleged that he had been removed from membership
in a county-funded volunteer fire department after the fire
department learned he was HIV-positive. The other complainant
alleged that he had been discharged because of his association
with the first complainant. The County agreed to reinstate the
complainants to regular membership as volunteer firefighters, pay
each $1,000 in damages, and ensure that its fire departments will
not retaliate against these individuals. The County also agreed
to train its volunteer firefighters on universal precautions to
prevent the transmission of HIV during firefighting activities,
to issue a nondiscrimination policy, and to adopt procedures for
reviewing future complaints.
Lancaster, California -- The Department settled a complaint
against a funeral home that refused to provide funeral services
to persons who died from AIDS-related complications. The owner
of the funeral home refused to provide such services because of
his fear of contracting HIV. After being contacted by the
Department, the owner agreed to provide the services and to
undergo training concerning universal precautions to prevent the
transmission of HIV.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- In October 1995, the Department
sued a moving company that allegedly refused to provide moving
services in Philadelphia to two former residents because a
neighbor, who was present at the moving site, was infected with
the AIDS virus. The suit seeks a court order prohibiting Bekins
Van Lines from discriminating against persons with disabilities
or their associates. The suit also seeks civil penalties, and
damages for the residents and their neighbor.
Charlotte, North Carolina -- The Department brought suit under
the Fair Housing Act challenging Charlotte's zoning law and the
city's treatment of certain group homes. The suit alleges that
Charlotte's zoning ordinance discriminates on its face by placing
restrictions on housing for people with disabilities that do not
apply to others, such as a one-quarter mile spacing requirement
that applies only to group homes for people with disabilities.
The suit also challenges the City's refusal to permit group homes
for persons with AIDS, head injuries, and disabilities associated
with aging to locate in single-family residential districts in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- A Federal court in Pennsylvania ruled
in United States v. Short that a landlord discriminated against
the residents of a group home for persons with AIDS. The
landlord harassed the tenants by posting a For Rent/For Sale sign
on the property, and, at various times, attaching to the sign a
plastic replica of a bull skull, a toilet seat, and a statue of
the Lady of Justice, which was spattered with orange paint and
wrapped in red tape. After the Court issued its ruling in favor
of the Justice Department, the landlord agreed to stop harassing
HIV-positive tenants and to pay monetary damages, including a
$10,000 donation to the Verona House Corporation, for use in
connection with the development and operation of a personal care
home for persons with AIDS.
Under its active program of technical assistance, the Civil
Rights Division fields calls from businesses, government
agencies, advocacy groups, and persons with disabilities through
its toll-free ADA Information Line, and provides information and
publications on how to comply with the ADA. It has also made
presentations to persons with HIV/AIDS and the individuals who
represent them; and provided technical assistance to
organizations representing public accommodations that serve
persons with HIV/AIDS, including the American Dental Association,
the American Medical Association, the National Funeral Directors
Association, and to various State and local governments.
This document is available in the following alternate formats for
persons with disabilities --
- Large print
- Audiocassette; and
- Electronic file on computer disk and electronic
bulletin board, (202) 514-6193.
To obtain these documents in alternate formats, call the
Department of Justice AD Information Line, (800) 514-0301
(Voice), (800) 514-0383 (TDD).
Note: Reproduction of this document is encouraged.