ACLU Advocates for HIV+ Air Force Vet Denied Baggage Screening Job

Today the ACLU filed an appeal to the decision by the Transportation Security Administration’s to disqualify Air Force Veteran Michael Lamarre from qualifying for a baggage screening job because he has HIV.

Click on the video below to listen to Michael talk about living with HIV, his military service and his reasons for applying to work for the TSA.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from
Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube's privacy statement on their website and Google's privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU's privacy statement, click here.

In the spring of 2008, Michael applied online for a baggage screening position at the Fort Lauderdale airport with the TSA. He passed an aptitude test in November 2008, underwent a comprehensive security clearance and was invited for an interview and further testing in March 2009. After the interview, Michael was scheduled for a physical with the TSA’s medical contractor, at which point he disclosed he has HIV. In response, the TSA asked Michael to have his physician submit additional information, including his most recent lab results and a questionnaire that asked whether Michael’s HIV could prevent him from performing the duties of a baggage screener.

Michael’s physician completed the request, responding unequivocally that Michael’s HIV would not interfere with his job performance. After living with HIV for 19 years, Michael’s viral load is nearly undetectable and he has never had any of the medical conditions associated with AIDS. To stay in shape, Michael bikes 30–70 miles every weekend, and last November he completed a 165-mile bike ride for charity.

Despite this response from his physician, a few days later Michael received a letter saying that he was disqualified for the job because of his HIV status.

On June 11, the ACLU filed an initial complaint on Michael’s behalf charging that the TSA was violating its own policy barring discrimination against people with disabilities. The TSA responded July 29th, claiming it was justified in refusing Michael a job as a baggage handler in order to protect his health because his lowered immune system made him vulnerable to infectious diseases at the airport. After TSA denied Michael’s initial complaint, the ACLU filed a formal complaint with the TSA today explaining to the agency that its reasons for refusing to hire Michael are based on incorrect assumptions about the health risks of people with HIV.

Click here for information on this case and the ACLU’s HIV/AIDS advocacy work.

Add a comment (2)
Read the Terms of Use

William Toodle

speaking of Educational racism ponder this my educational loan is being split into two part and held for classes i haven't enrolled in yet which is a violation under the federal family education loan program Borrower's right and responsibilites statement. Which states if the loan amount exceeds the amount owed to the school, my school will forward the remainder of my loan money to me, unless i authorize the school to hold the remainder as a credit.I never authorize such a thing. The phoenix police department is behinde this for what i reported in early blogs. the same thing happen last year and i sent emails to my lawyer and he knews this would happen again. they don't know but there accreditation will soon by compromised for racial discrimination. Not just the finanical aid office i sent emails to the dean all upper adminisration seeking help. What did they do? block my emails from being sent to them. then somehow my check was released dispite what i was being told by financial aid they lied till the end. as for me i went on to have one of my most successful year ending with a 3.0 GPA. this is why it's so important to help stop racism in our schools and other places, and hold these people accountable for there actions. They pat you on the back wish you well and when you turn and walk away they do everything in the power to keep you from achieving your goals. special thanks to that person who sent the letter i got it. thank you for your support. If we want America to truly be a land of freedom, equal rights stop picking battels your willing to fight and stand up against all wrong doing remember thing change when people band together and speak loudly against certain things use the media the way they use us, make them earn their money, and report crimes that are worthy of news like whats going on hear in Phoenix Arizona i tell you it's a dam shame from the outhouse to the courthouse it's troubling. and to the President i would never vote for you again so soon have you forgotten the people voted you in and they are the last on the pole to get help, you talk a good game, but you have shown very little. it's not always good to start for the top sometime you have to attack from the bottom up, like crooket Judges Police school officals these are the thing that matter to people who stand in line 5hrs waiting to vote for you. dont for get where you come from, and how some people still look at you make a real difference while you can ....... Peace William


Good for ACLU. All I can say about the TSA is amazing. Although, considering the bureaucracy it's not really a surprise. I wonder how many people they refused to hire based on other immune diseases like arthritis, diabetes, and others.

Sign Up for Breaking News