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4th Circuit: asymptomatic HIV is not a disability under ADA.

Published Article
AIDS policy & law
Publication Date
Sep 05, 1997
PMID: 11364661


The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that [name removed], who is HIV-positive, cannot continue with his lawsuit alleging that NationsBank of Maryland fired him because of his HIV status. The court decided that [name removed] did not make a case of discrimination against his employer because his work performance was substandard. Additionally, the court ruled that HIV infection in and of itself does not constitute a disability and therefore [name removed] is not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court ruled that [name removed] failed to prove that his asymptomatic HIV infection was an impairment or that it substantially limits a major life activity. When the ADA was enacted in 1990 it was presumed that anyone with HIV would be protected from discrimination and reports filed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate indicated that legislators felt that HIV infection constituted an impairment. This ruling made by the 4th Circuit seems to discount the legislation's intent. The court rejected [name removed]'s suggestion that the ability to procreate and engage in intimate sexual relations was a limitation of a major life activity. Dissenters argued that the opinion is not based on sound medical facts because HIV, even if it is asymptomatic, is an impairment. The dissent also contends that Mr. [Name removed] was not given fair and ample opportunity to prove that his HIV infection is disabling. The court was in sharp disagreement relative to [name removed]'s job performance. The court majority said that [name removed] failed to meet sales goals and engaged in unprofessional behavior. The dissent countered that [name removed]'s sales record exceeded that of another employee who was not terminated.

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