Lambda Legal Secures Favorable Settlement for HIV-Positive Flight Paramedic

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February 2, 2017
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Lambda Legal will continue to fight on behalf of all people living with HIV, particularly HIV-positive health care workers, to ensure they are protected in the workplace.

Today, Lambda Legal resolved a federal discrimination lawsuit involving Air Evac Lifeteam, and its employee Clinton “Clint” Moore, who was removed from his job as a flight paramedic after disclosing his HIV-positive status.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Moore alleged that Air Evac violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other related laws by failing to conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether he could continue to safely serve as a helicopter paramedic and by removing him from his job based on the erroneous conclusion that he presented a threat to the health and safety others. Air Evac argued that its actions were based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for HIV-positive health care workers, which has since been retired. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum.

"We are very happy to resolve this case on behalf of Clint. He was and is an excellent employee and an advocate for people living with HIV in the health care field," said Kyle Palazzolo, HIV Project Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal. "Lambda Legal will continue to fight on behalf of all people living with HIV, particularly HIV-positive health care workers, to ensure they are protected in the workplace."

"Lambda Legal will continue to fight on behalf of all people living with HIV, particularly HIV-positive health care workers, to ensure they are protected in the workplace."
—  Kyle Palazzolo, HIV Project Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal

Mr. Moore was hired in 2008 as a flight paramedic by Air Evac, a Missouri-based helicopter ambulance service that transports patients to medical care facilities. In November 2013, he was diagnosed with HIV. Shortly after he informed his employer of his diagnosis, company officials told Mr. Moore he would need to petition the medical board in each of the five states where he flew missions for approval to continue working as a helicopter paramedic in order to remain in that role. Mr. Moore’s complaint alleged that such a process was unnecessary because his job did not include tasks that would put the health or safety of his patients or co-workers at risk. Mr. Moore accepted another position within Air Evac, which allowed him to receive continued income and health care coverage, and he has remained employed there throughout the litigation.

"If an employer believes an employee presents a risk to the health or safety of others, it is the employer's obligation under the ADA to conduct an individualized assessment of the alleged risk based on current, objective evidence," said Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal's HIV Project Director. "In a majority of cases involving health care workers living with HIV, such an assessment is likely to conclude that the employee does not present any risk to patients, much less the significant risk required under the ADA."

"I love being a helicopter paramedic, and I'm happy with this settlement," said Mr. Moore. "Though this was a difficult experience and a painful reminder of the stigma still associated with people living with HIV, I'm proud to have stood up for what I believe in, and I'm glad that Lambda Legal was standing beside me."

HIV Project Staff Attorney Kyle Palazzolo and HIV Project Director/Senior Attorney Scott Schoettes handled the case for Lambda Legal, joined by local counsel Bruce E. Hopson. Specifics of the agreement reached between Mr. Moore and Air Evac are confidential.