After being denied for a Foreign Service officer position inside the State Department in 2001, Lorenzo Taylor will finally get his day in court — to argue Condoleezza Rice & Co. denied him the position because of his HIV-positive status, violating federal law. The case has been dragging on since 2002, when the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund took up Taylor’s case and claimed the State Department violated the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits the government from discriminating based on disabilities, including HIV.
State Department officials have acknowledged that Taylor, an Arlington, Va., resident, was highly qualified for a Foreign Service post at the time he applied for a job in 2001. But personnel officials informed him that his HIV-positive status disqualified him for the job under a State Department policy that says people with HIV are ineligible for deployment overseas.
The policy says Foreign Service officers must be capable of serving in certain “hardship” posts in developing countries, where they most likely could not obtain adequate medical care. The policy applies whether or not the individual’s actual assignment is to a “hardship post.”
Which would make these positions off-limits to anyone in a wheelchair, anyone with vision and hearing loss, and anyone with cancer.