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January 28, 2009

Positive Former Green Beret Files Discrimination Suit Against State Department

A former Green Beret has filed a discrimination suit against the State Department and private security firm Triple Canopy for removing him from a training program due to a provision that requires contract employees to be “free from communicable disease,” including HIV, reports The Washington Post. The provision was in the State Department’s World Personal Protective Services Contract with the company.

The plaintiff, who is referred to in court documents as John Doe, worked in the Army as a Special Forces engineer, intelligence officer and team sergeant in countries such as Iraq, Kenya and Pakistan. In November 2005, he was barred from providing security to diplomats in Haiti. Doe’s attorneys from a New York-based law firm and the American Civil Liberties Union argue that the Americans With Disabilities Act and federal Rehabilitation Act prohibit discrimination based on disabilities, including HIV.

“There [are] not too many Americans that are as qualified as I am doing this kind of work,” said Doe, who added that his employers in Iraq knew of his positive status. “I am a professional at what I do, and I’ve never had any problems doing my job.”

Triple Canopy’s legal brief explained that Doe posed a “consequent threat to the safety and health of other individuals” due to the potentially dangerous conditions of the job and risk of blood exposure. It added that if Doe were wounded “his colleagues would face the choice of either refusing to render aid to him or doing so without the ability to comply” with procedures for treating people living with HIV.

Search: Green Beret, discrimination, communicable diseases, State Department, Americans With Disabilities Act, ACLU

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