INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Town of Clarksville for violating Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The lawsuit alleges the Clarksville Police Department unlawfully revoked a job offer to a qualified officer based on his HIV diagnosis. The officer previously worked for the department in a volunteer role for more than a year before the issue took place, according to a release from the DoJ.
“Every day, we depend on law enforcement officers who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe,” U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana said. “Those who are qualified and seek to serve their communities should not be subjected to unlawful discrimination. Individuals living with HIV are entitled to the full protection of our anti-discrimination laws. Our office will work closely with our partners in the Civil Rights Division to ensure that those who seek to serve the public are not unlawfully discriminated against.”
The volunteer officer was offered a position with the police department in October 2015, according to the complaint filed by the United States DoJ.
The complaint continues by stating, on November 17, 2015, Clarksville’s Police Chief recommended that the Clarksville Metropolitan Board of Fire, Police and Safety Commissioners (the “Board”) withdraw the offer of employment as a police officer and terminate him as a reserve police officer.
This withdrawal came after a medical examination found the prospective officer was taking medication for HIV, according to the complaint. However, the complaint also states that the prospective officer's “HIV is well-controlled with medication and his viral load is, and during all relevant times was, fully suppressed. Complainant’s HIV does not present a significant risk to the health or safety of himself or others in the performance of his duties as a police officer.”
Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of disability. According to the DoJ, this includes withdrawing a job offer to a qualified individual based on unsupported and stereotypical views of the applicant's disability.
A spokesperson for Clarksville issued the following statement:
“Today the Town of Clarksville learned of a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice against the Town of Clarksville regarding an American with Disabilities Act complaint. The Town of Clarksville has been aware of the complaint and has been working with the DOJ to resolve the matter. Despite the recently filed lawsuit, the Town of Clarksville will continue to work to find an amicable solution to the complaint.
The Town of Clarksville and the Clarksville Police Department will have no further comment on the lawsuit as it is a matter of pending litigation.”