Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Justice Department Settles with Cosmetology School in Puerto Rico on Allegations of HIV Discrimination

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced the settlement of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint against Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.

The Justice Department initiated its investigation in response to an allegation that Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. discriminated against an HIV-positive applicant by denying her enrollment.   Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc.’s cooperation in arriving at this agreement was an important factor in resolving the matter promptly, the department said.   

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. made an offer of enrollment to the complainant, will cease requesting information about HIV/AIDS status from future applicants and will provide training to all employees about discrimination on the basis of disability. Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. will also pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the United States and $8,000 in damages to the complainant.

“It is critical that we continue to work to eradicate discriminatory and stigmatizing treatment towards individuals with HIV based on unfounded fears and stereotypes,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The ADA clearly protects individuals with HIV and other disabilities from this kind of exclusion or marginalization.”

Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as Modern Hairstyling Institute Inc. from excluding people with disabilities, including people with HIV, from enjoying the services, goods and accommodations provided.   Those interested in learning out more about federal disability rights statutes can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301, 800-514-0383 (TTY), or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.

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