News and Press Releases

Gwinnett College Agrees to Resolve Alleged Violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2014

ATLANTA - The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia has reached a settlement agreement with Gwinnett College to resolve an investigation into allegations that it violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by not allowing an individual who has HIV to fully participate in its programs and classes. 
           
“Despite years of education regarding HIV and AIDS, many people still encounter discrimination based on the stigma of this disability,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “Our office will continue to devote resources to fight injustices for people with HIV.”

The settlement resolves allegations arising from a complaint filed with the United States Attorney's Office that Gwinnett College would not allow an individual with HIV to participate in its Medical Assistant Program. 

The Complainant applied for admission as a student in the Medical Assistant Program at Gwinnett College.  As part of the enrollment process, Gwinnett College was informed that the Complainant has HIV.  The College accepted the Complainant into the Program, and the Complainant successfully completed one quarter of courses.  Only then did Gwinnett College tell the Complainant she could not continue in the program’s Medical Assistant Program because she was a safety risk to others.  As a result of being forced from the Program of her choosing, the Complainant left Gwinnett College.  Gwinnett College fully cooperated with the United States Attorney's Office to resolve the complaint.

Gwinnett College has agreed to make changes to its enrollment process, including removing questions related to HIV/AIDS on its application.  The College has also agreed to draft new policies and procedures indicating that it does not discriminate against applicants or students on the basis of disability, including HIV.  Based on the Agreement, Gwinnett College will conduct ADA training for all its employees, with a focus on HIV‑related discrimination.  The College has also agreed to pay $23,000 to repay a portion of Complainant’s student loans, and compensate her for emotional distress, pain and suffering. 

Title III of the ADA prohibits places of public accommodations, such as Gwinnett College, from excluding people with disabilities, including people with HIV, from participating in or benefitting from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations. 

Assistant United States Attorney Aileen Bell Hughes represented the United States in this matter. 

            For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

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