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Couture v. Belle Bonfils

Last Update: January 6, 2005

What's at Stake

Colorado HIV employment discrimination.

John Couture was hired by Bonfils Memorial Blood Center to work as a phlebotomist as part of a mobile blood collection team. Several weeks into his training, he was informed that members of his training class would practice on each other to learn how to draw blood.

Couture disclosed his HIV status to his employer to avoid the possibility that one of one of his colleagues would come into contact with his blood during this one-time training. As a result, Bonfils Memorial Blood Center fired him from his position as a phlebotomist, yet allowed him to apply for an inferior position in the production department where he would have no contact with blood donors. Soon thereafter Couture contacted the Center’s Legal Initiatives Project, which filed a discrimination lawsuit on his behalf.

In a Friend-of-the-Court brief to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU points out that Bonfils Memorial Blood Center violated Couture’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by illegally firing him even though the medical evidence shows that he was not a legitimate risk to blood donors.

Status: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling against Couture.

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