This article was cross-posted from the AIDS.gov blog.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Justice Department has launched a new section of its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website, www.ada.gov/aids.
Persons with HIV and persons with AIDS are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which gives federal civil rights protections to persons with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, and state and local government services. The new web page provides important information and resources related to combating discrimination on the basis of HIV/AIDS.
Users can visit the site to file an HIV/AIDS discrimination complaint, to obtain ADA technical assistance materials related to HIV/AIDS, and to get the latest updates about the Department's efforts to stop HIV/AIDS discrimination. The website also provides easy access to an extensive collection of ADA settlement agreements, as well as information about enforcement, mediation, technical assistance, and certification activities.
The new resource is one part of the Department's effort to protect individuals with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. Other examples of recent work on behalf of individuals with HIV/AIDS include:
- In January 2010, the Civil Rights Division settled a lawsuit against Wales West LLC, owner and operator of Wales West RV Resort and Train and Garden Lovers Family Park in Silverhill, Alabama. The lawsuit alleged that Wales West LLC violated the ADA when it unlawfully denied full and equal services to a child and his family because the child has HIV. The complaint alleged that Wales West LLC, upon learning that a guest family's two-year-old child has HIV, banned the family from using the common areas of the RV resort, such as the swimming pool and showers. The child's parents had planned a month-long stay at the family-themed RV resort while the father commuted to nearby Mobile for ongoing cancer treatment. After Wales West LLC denied them full use of the facilities, the family left early the next morning. The consent decree requires Wales West LLC to establish policies, procedures and training practices to ensure that patrons are not discriminated against on the basis of disability. In addition, Wales West LLC was required to pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States and $36,000 in damages to the affected family.
- In December 2010, the Civil Rights Division reached a settlement with Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc., of Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The settlement stemmed from an investigation into an allegation that Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. discriminated against an HIV-positive applicant by denying her enrollment. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. made an offer of enrollment to the complainant, provided training to all employees about discrimination on the basis of disability, and will cease requesting information about HIV/AIDS status from future applicants. Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. also paid a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States and $8,000 in damages to the complainant.
- In March 2011, the Civil Rights Division issued letters to the attorneys general of all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories, to request their assistance in addressing the illegal exclusion of individuals with HIV/AIDS from occupational training and state licensing. The Justice Department had learned that public and private trade schools for barbering, cosmetology, massage therapy, home health care work and other occupations, as well as state licensing agencies, might have been illegally denying individuals with HIV/AIDS admission to trade schools and/or occupational licenses because of their HIV status. However, because HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact or by the circumstances present in these occupations, HIV-positive status is irrelevant. In his letter to the attorneys general, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez asked that they review their respective jurisdictions' admission and licensing criteria for trade schools and licensing agencies to identify the existence of any criteria that unlawfully exclude or discriminate against persons with HIV/AIDS, and to take the steps necessary to bring all such programs into compliance with the ADA.
Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov, or the HIV/AIDS section at www.ada.gov/aids. ADA complaints may be filed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracy Russo is new media strategist for the Department of Justice. (Cross-posted from The Justice Blog.)
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