Letter to States Regarding Illegal Exclusion of Individuals with HIV/AIDS from Occupational Training and State Licensing

 

 

March 10, 2011

Re: HIV/AIDS Discrimination in Occupational Training and State Licensing

Dear Attorney[s] General [ ]:

The Civil Rights Division is reaching out to all Attorneys General to highlight an area of disability discrimination, namely, the illegal exclusion of individuals with HIV/AIDS from occupational training and state licensing.  This is an issue that the Department of Justice has addressed in a recent settlement agreement and the issuance of a technical assistance document. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives Federal civil rights protections to persons with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, and State and local government services.  Persons with HIV, whether asymptomatic or symptomatic, and persons with AIDS are covered by the ADA.  It has come to our attention that public and private trade schools for barbering, cosmetology, massage therapy, home health care work, and other similar occupations, as well as state licensing agencies, may be denying individuals with HIV/AIDS admission to trade schools and/or occupational licenses because of their HIV status.  Under the ADA, such conduct is unlawful discrimination. 

HIV-positive status in the context of barbering, cosmetology, massage therapy, home health care work, and other similar occupations is, simply, irrelevant.  HIV cannot be transmitted by casual contact or by the circumstances present in these occupations.  Therefore, licensing boards and trade schools may not require an applicant to provide a medical certification that he or she is free of HIV/AIDS in order to be qualified for admission to the school or as a condition for receipt of the license.

The Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division recently entered into a settlement agreement with a private cosmetology school in Puerto Rico for delaying the admission of an HIV-positive individual.  That settlement agreement, attached for your reference, requires the school to remove questions about applicants' HIV/AIDS status and to promptly enroll the aggrieved individual in its cosmetology program.  Further guidance on this issue is provided in the enclosed Department of Justice publication addressing these issues, entitled "Questions and Answers:  The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rights of Persons with HIV/AIDS To Obtain Occupational Training and State Licensing."  This document is available through the Department's ADA Website (www.ada.gov/publication.html).  Copies may also be ordered through the ADA Information Line: 800-514-0301 (voice) or, 800-514-0383 (TTY).

We ask that you review your jurisdiction's admission and licensing criteria for trade schools and State licensing agencies to determine if your State has any criteria that unlawfully exclude or discriminate against persons with HIV/AIDS.  If you encounter any such criteria, we ask that you take the steps necessary to bring your programs into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We appreciate your consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

 

Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General

Enclosures

 

The Honorable Luther Strange, Attorney General, State of Alabama
The Honorable John J. Burns, Attorney General, State of Alaska
The Honorable Fepulea'i Afa Ripley, Jr., Attorney General, Territory of American Samoa
The Honorable Tom Horne, Attorney General, State of Arizona
The Honorable Dustin McDaniel, Attorney General, State of Arkansas
The Honorable Kamala Harris, Attorney General, State of California
The Honorable John Suthers, Attorney General, State of Colorado
The Honorable George Jepsen, Attorney General, State of Connecticut
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, III, Attorney General, State of Delware
The Honorable Irvin Nathan, Acting Attorney General, District of Columbia
The Honorable Pam Bondi, Attorney General, State of Florida
The Honorable Sam Olens, Attorney General, State of Georgia
The Honorable Leonardo M. Rapadas, Attorney General, Territory of Guam
The Honorable David M. Louie, Attorney General, State of Hawaii
The Honorable Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, State of Idaho
The Honorable Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, State of Illinois
The Honorable Greg Zoeller, Attorney General, State of Indiana
The Honorable Tom Miller, Attorney General, State of Iowa
The Honorable Derek Schmidt, Attorney General, State of Kansas
The Honorable Jack Conway, Attorney General, State of Kentucky
The Honorable James D. Caldwell, Attorney General, State of Louisiana
The Honorable William J. Schneider, Attorney General, State of Maine
The Honorable Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General, State of Maryland
The Honorable Martha Coakley, Attorney General, State of Massachusetts
The Honorable Bill Schuette, Attorney General, State of Michigan
The Honorable Lori Swanson, Attorney General, State of Minnesota
The Honorable Jim Hood, Attorney General, State of Mississippi
The Honorable Chris Koster, Attorney General, State of Missouri
The Honorable Steve Bullock, Attorney General, State of Montana
The Honorable Jon Bruning, Attorney General, State of Nebraska
The Honorable Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, State of Nevada
The Honorable Michael A. Delaney, Attorney General, State of New Hampshire
The Honorable Paula T. Dow, Attorney General, State of New Jersey
The Honorable Gary King, Attorney General, State of New Mexico
The Honorable Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, State of New York
The Honorable Roy Cooper, Attorney General, State of North Carolina
The Honorable Wayne Stenehjem, Attorney General, State of North Dakota
The Honorable Mike DeWine, Attorney General, State of Ohio
The Honorable Scott Pruitt, Attorney General, State of Oklahoma
The Honorable John Kroger, Attorney General, State of Oregan
The Honorable William H. Ryan, Jr., Acting Attorney General, State of Pennsylvania
The Honorable Guilermo Somoza-Colombani, Attorney General, Commonwealth of San Juan
The Honorable Peter Kilmartin, Attorney General, State of Rhode Island
The Honorable Alan Wilson, Attorney General, State of South Carolina
The Honorable Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General, State of South Dakota
The Honorable Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General, State of Tennessee
The Honorable Greg Abbott, Attorney General, State of Texas
The Honorable Mark Shurtleff, Attorney General, State of Utah
The Honorable William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, State of Vermont
The Honorable Vincent F. Frazer, Attorney General, United States Virgin Islands
The Honorable Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General, Commonwealth of Virginia
The Honorable Rob McKenna, Attorney General, State of Washington
The Honorable Darrell V. McGraw, Jr., Attorney General, Commonwealth of West Virginia
The Honorable J.B. Van Hollen, Attorney General, State of Wisconsin
The Honorable Edward T. Buckingham, Attorney General, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island

Updated May 5, 2011