Lambda Legal Files Appeal in Case Charging Federal Government with HIV Discrimination: Lawsuit Against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Behalf of Man Denied Job for HIV Status
(Washington, D.C., December 5, 2005) — Today Lambda Legal will file its opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in a lawsuit on behalf of a man who was denied employment as a Foreign Service Officer by the U.S. State Department because he is HIV positive.
"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 over-all health. Given his long history of excellent health, this makes no sense, " said Jonathan Givner, HIV Project Director of Lambda Legal. "The federal government needs a reality check."
Lambda Legal represents Taylor, who is fluent in three languages, holds a Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University and easily passed the rigorous application process required to be a Foreign Service Officer.
Lambda Legal's lawsuit, filed in late 2002, says the State Department's policy violates the federal Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits the federal government from discriminating against people with disabilities. The lawsuit seeks a change in the outdated policy. This spring, federal district court Judge Rosemary Collyer issued an opinion in favor of the State Department saying that the government should not have to accommodate Taylor by letting him use some of his sick and vacation leave, available to all Foreign Service Officers, to travel to see his doctor. Lambda Legal's appeal argues that the Rehabilitation Act was designed to require employers to make reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis as long as the employee can fulfill the responsibilities of the job — which Taylor can. Currently, if Foreign Service Officers are diagnosed with HIV while on the job, reasonable accommodations are made for those employees. There is no evidence to suggest that this has caused any difficulties for the State Department.
The case is Taylor v. Rice.
Jon Givner, HIV Project Director and Jennifer Sinton, HIV Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal are co-counsel on the case with Leslie M. Hill, Elizabeth Leise and Kathleen A. Behan, of Arnold & Porter LLP.
Contact: Tika Milan 212.809.8585 ext. 223; C: 716.446.3122; E: [email protected]
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work