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HIV/AIDS | Discrimination | National/Federal

National/Federal Discrimination Q&A

What are some potential remedies for discrimination under federal law?

To pursue a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act for employment discrimination, the employer must have at least 15 employees.  A person must file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of the discriminatory act. A person may remove an ADA claim from the EEOC and file a lawsuit in state or federal court.

To pursue a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act for discrimination in a place of public accommodation, a person may, without first going to an administrative agency, file a claim in state or federal court for injunctive relief only (i.e., seeking a court order that the discriminatory conduct cease).  Money damages are not available for violation of Title III of the ADA unless they are sought by the United States Department of Justice.  However, a person may recover money damages under the Federal Rehabilitation Act in cases against entities that receive federal funding.

To pursue a claim under the Rehabilitation Act, a person may file an administrative complaint with the regional office of the federal Department of Health and Human Services and/or file a lawsuit directly in court.

To pursue a claim under the National Fair Housing Act for discrimination in housing, a person may file a complaint with the United States Office of Housing and Urban Development within one year of the violation. A person may also bring a lawsuit within two years of the violation. A lawsuit may be filed whether or not a person has filed a complaint with HUD.

What are the specific provisions of the ADA that prohibit discrimination by health care providers?

Under Title III of the ADA, it is illegal for a health care provider to:

  1. Deny an HIV-positive patient the “full and equal enjoyment” of medical services or to deny an HIV-positive patient the “opportunity to benefit” from medical services in the same manner as other patients.
  2. Establish “eligibility criteria” for the privilege of receiving medical services, which tend to screen out patients who have tested positive for HIV.
  3. Provide “different or separate” services to patients who are HIV-positive or fail to provide services to patients in the “most integrated setting.”
  4. Deny equal medical services to a person who is known to have a “relationship” or “association” to a person with HIV, such as a spouse, partner, child, or friend.