Justice Department Settles Complaints with Health Care Providers Regarding HIV Discrimination

The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) announced last Friday that it has settled two complaints involving claims that health care providers refused to serve people with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The first complaint was filed by a man with HIV who sought treatment at the Mercy Medical Group Midtown Clinic in Sacramento, Calif. After examining the patient, a podiatrist at the clinic advised him of his treatment options. Although surgery was an option, the podiatrist erroneously told the patient he could not perform the surgery because fo the risk the doctor would contract HIV from the patient during surgery.  The DOJ determined the podiatrist violated the ADA by denying the patient the full and equal enjoyment of the clinic’s services on the basis of his disability.

In the second complaint, following an automobile accident, a man with HIV sought chiropractic treatment from the Knoxville Chiropractic Clinic North Knoxville in Knoxville, Tenn. After examining him, the chiropractor recommended 24 subsequent treatments. On his third visit, however, the receptionist informed him that the doctor would not see him because they could not treat people “like him.” The DOJ determined that the Knoxville clinic violated the ADA by having a “blanket” policy of refusing treatment to persons with HIV.

The settlement agreements require the clinics to develop and implement a non-discrimination policy and to train staff on the requirements of the ADA. Additionally, the Mercy Medical Group and CHW Medical Foundation must pay $60,000 to the complainant and $25,000 as a civil penalty and the Knoxville Clinic must pay a civil penalty of $10,000.

In conclusion, individuals with disabilities who believe they have been discriminated against based on their disability by a health care provider or other public accommodation can find information on how to file an ADA complaint at the US Department of Justice website.

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