Cirque du Soleil Offers to Rehire HIV-Positive Gymnast Fired Because of Perceived Threat to Others
February 2, 2004
Cirque du Soleil on Friday said that it will offer to rehire an HIV-positive gymnast who was fired in spring 2003 because of concerns that his HIV-positive status could endanger other performers, the Los Angeles Times reports (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 1/31). Matthew Cusick said that he disclosed his HIV-positive status to Cirque shortly after his July 2002 hiring, underwent several medical evaluations and was found to be in good health and considered fully able to perform with the company. However, shortly before he was to begin performing in the company's Las Vegas show "Mystere," Cirque sent him a letter terminating his employment and stating that his HIV-positive status "will likely pose a direct threat of harm to others, particularly in the case of future injury" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/19/03). However, Cirque spokesperson Renee-Claude Menard on Friday said that the company now believes that Cusick's HIV-positive status would present "minimal" risk to other performers and audience members and that "there are no restrictions now for anyone with HIV at Cirque." Cirque's decision to reinstate Cusick comes in response to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's proposal for mediation in the case, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 1/31).
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