Louisiana former cop who wasn’t hired as sheriff’s deputy over HIV status wins $90K settlement
In addition to the payout, the sheriff's office also agreed to change its policies.(Shutterstock)
A Louisiana man who wasn’t hired as a sheriff’s deputy due to his HIV status has won a settlement against the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
William “Liam” Pierce will get $90,000 and a guarantee that the office will change its policies toward HIV-positive employees.
Before applying for the position of sheriff’s deputy in 2012, Pierce worked in Louisiana as a paramedic and a police officer. After his in-person interview, a captain told him he would be hired, according to Lambda Legal, a legal nonprofit that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ people.
The job offer was later rescinded, however, after the office learned of his HIV status.
A few months later Pierce filed a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act. After investigating his claim, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated that evidence supported his claims against the sheriff’s office.
In October, 2017, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pierce against the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s office in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.
On Tuesday, nearly eight years after he was passed over for the job, the organization announced that the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay him $90,000 in damages.
The office will also change its hiring policies to include an explicit statement that “discrimination on the basis of disability, including HIV status, is prohibited;” conduct mandatory trainings on HIV education, and “add an HIV discrimination component in new-hire and annual civil rights/non-discrimination training.”
“I immediately knew that the Sheriff’s decision not to hire me was based on my HIV status, and though it was a long journey, it feels good to finally be vindicated,” Pierce said in a statement. “I hope that my case helps others avoid going through my experience and demonstrates to other employers that living with HIV has nothing to do with our ability to do any job.”
“This settlement is a lesson to all employers across the country that HIV discrimination in the workplace is completely unlawful and has no place anywhere,” celebrated Scott Schoettes, a counsel and the HIV project director at Lambda Legal.
“This settlement should also serve as a wakeup call to states and cities across the country to remove once and for all outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws that perpetuate discrimination and ignore current medical science,” he added.