Atlanta to pay $250,000 to settle lawsuit over police candidate with HIV

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ATLANTA — A man with HIV who said he was denied a position with the police force has reached a settlement with the city of Atlanta, his lawyers said Wednesday.

The city would pay $250,000 under terms of the agreement, Lambda Legal said. The deal must still be approved by the city council.

“I think that it sends a clear message to police departments across the country that they can’t rely upon outdated notions of HIV and its transmission to shape their policies,” said Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal’s HIV project director.

Police referred questions to the city’s legal department. Representatives from that department and the mayor’s office did not immediately return calls Wednesday.

The case involves a 40-year-old plaintiff who applied to join the police force in 2006. A city attorney said at an earlier court hearing that a doctor who screens candidates for the force advised police to limit his interaction with the public, which the man said prevented him from joining the department. He is referred to in court records by the pseudonym Richard Roe to protect his privacy.

In a February interview with The Associated Press, the man identified himself as a former investigator for the city of Los Angeles who learned he had HIV in 1997. He said a blood test during the hiring process in Atlanta revealed the virus, but he didn’t think it would be a problem because it didn’t hinder his ability to work.

Schoettes said Wednesday he doesn’t believe the plaintiff still has plans to join the department.

“But he should be able to if he wanted to if they’re no longer going to discriminate in this way,” he said. “And it opens the door for others who are HIV-positive to apply and be accepted by the Atlanta Police Department.”

The case is the most recent involving allegations of mistreatment by police officers.

In March, the Atlanta City Council approved a $330,000 payment in a separate lawsuit stemming from a 2009 police raid at the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. Patrons had said they were forced to lie on the floor as officers used anti-gay slurs. The city had already spent $1.2 million on two other lawsuits stemming from that raid.


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