The case of a 40-year old man who was denied employment with the Atlanta Police Department over his positive HIV status will return to a U.S. District Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit sent the case back to the lower court to resolve unaddressed issues.
The man, identified as by the pseudonym “Richard Roe,” first applied to the APD in early 2006, but was denied employment due to his HIV status. Roe claims the department called him a “direct threat” to the safety of others.
Roe was represented by attorneys with Lambda Legal, a nonprofit group that works on LGBT and HIV issues. Lambda argued the case before the appeals panel on Jan. 25 in Atlanta.
"This is a great victory for Lambda Legal's client who will now get his chance in court to show how the APD's refusal to hire him was discriminatory and illegal," Scott Schoettes, Lambda Legal's HIV project director, said in a press release this afternoon.
"Before the appellate court, the City of Atlanta admitted that there are already HIV-positive police officers serving on the force; now they need to explain why our client should be treated any differently," Schoettes said.
In an unpublished opinion released today, the three-judge appeals court panel found that the district court erred in siding with the city that Roe had not established he is qualified to be a police officer. “Unpublished” means the opinion is not binding precedent, according to the appeals court web site.