Big D.C. Circuit Win for Foreign Service Candidate with HIV
I'm too tired to blog more about this right now, but on Tuesday a conservative panel of the D.C. Circuit surprisingly (but, happily) issued a ruling in favor of an individual who had been turned down for a job as a foreign service officer because he had HIV. The officer sued under the Rehabilitation Act, but the district court granted summary judgment. The district court concluded that given the state of medical care in lots of countries, the plaintiff would not be available for worldwide posting. The court also concluded that "worldwide availability" was an essential function of the job of foreign service officer, and that it would not be a reasonable accommodation to permit the plaintiff to use his leave to travel to countries with more developed medical systems for physician's appointments. The D.C. Circuit reversed. The court concluded that there were disputed issues of fact regarding whether worldwide availability is indeed an essential function of the foreign service job and whether the leave accommodation would be unreasonable. Accordingly, the court kept the plaintiff's case alive and remanded for further proceedings. This is a good win for the plaintiff, who was represented by Lambda Legal -- and it's a particularly surprising one given the panel.