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Clarksville agrees to settle DOJ lawsuit for rescinding job offer to man with HIV

Clarksville officials have agreed on a proposed consent decree with the Department of Justice to settle a federal lawsuit against the town.

The DOJ filed the lawsuit against Clarksville officials in April, after a man claimed the town violated his civil rights by rescinding a job offer with the police department because he has HIV. The man, who applied for the position in 2015, had already been working as a volunteer reserve officer with the department for more than a year.

“No individual should be subject to employment discrimination based on their HIV status,”  Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general with the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The complainant’s dream job was taken away because of unfounded assumptions that his HIV diagnosis would impact his ability to safely do the job. This settlement reflects the Justice Department’s firm commitment to enforcing the rights of job applicants and employees who experience unlawful discrimination based on disability.”

As part of the settlement, Clarksville will pay the man $150,000 in compensatory damages. Officials will also provide him with an affidavit that says he’s eligible for rehire with the police department and that his termination was through no fault of his own.

The town is required to revise its medical examination policies and train employees and consultants about Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to a DOJ news release, the law prevents employers from discriminating against people with disabilities, including “withdrawing a job offer to a qualified individual based on unsupported and stereotypical views of the applicant’s disability.”

Clarksville officials, who previously denied violating the man’s civil rights, must submit a report about the training to the DOJ in six months.

“We are happy that this case came to a conclusion which satisfies all parties involved,” said Clarksville Town Manager Kevin Baity in a statement. “All obligations included in the agreement will be met by the Town of Clarksville, and we will continue to ensure that those with disabilities have an equal opportunity for employment with the Town of Clarksville.”

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana must approve the consent decree, according to the DOJ. Clarksville officials said in a release the town “considers this matter closed and will have no further comment regarding this case.”

John Boyle is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. John’s coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, Community Foundation of Southern Indiana and Samtec, Inc.

John, News Editor for LPM, is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Email John at jboyle@lpm.org.

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