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U.S. Justice Department sues Clarksville, Indiana for allegedly denying police candidate over HIV diagnosis

Kyeland Jackson

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Clarksville for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit alleges Clarksville officials revoked a job offer to a prospective police officer because of his HIV diagnosis, which DOJ attorneys say is a violation of Title I of the ADA.

“No qualified individual should lose a hard-earned career opportunity because of misguided views about their disability that are not supported by medicine or science,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in statement. “This lawsuit reflects the Justice Department’s firm commitment to protecting qualified workers, including those with HIV, from unlawful employment discrimination.”

The police candidate had been volunteering as a reserve officer with the town’s police department. He received an offer of employment in October 2015, contingent upon passing a state-mandated medical examination.

The examiner said the candidate’s HIV diagnosis posed “a significant risk of substantial harm and safety” and advised against hiring him. A few weeks later, his job offer was withdrawn and he was terminated as a reserve officer.

“The Town of Clarksville has been aware of the complaint and has been working with the DOJ to resolve the matter,” Town Manager Kevin Baity said in a statement. “Despite the recently filed lawsuit, the Town of Clarksville will continue to work to find an amicable solution to the complaint.”

The man said the decision delayed the start of his law enforcement career and caused significant emotional distress and monetary harm.