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Monday, April 27, 2015

Justice Department Settles with Private Career College for Discrimination Against Applicant with HIV

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with Compass Career Management L.L.C. (Compass Career College) of Hammond, Louisiana, to remedy violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Compass Career College is a private provider of vocational education and career training.

Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as private vocational and technical colleges, from discriminating against people with disabilities, including those with HIV.  Based on its investigation, the department determined that the college conditionally accepted an applicant into its Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program but issued a follow-up letter to the applicant after the college discovered that the applicant has HIV.  The college’s letter discouraged the applicant from pursuing enrollment at the college.  Despite the college’s letter, the applicant attempted to finalize enrollment at the college, but the college advised the applicant that the class was full and did not admit the applicant.  The consent decree, filed today along with a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, must be approved by the court.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the college will implement a nondiscrimination policy to ensure that the college does not discriminate against persons with HIV; stop questioning applicants and students about their HIV status; train college administrators and instructors on ADA requirements and the revised policies required by the consent decree; and report to the department on its compliance with the consent decree.  In addition, the college will pay $30,000 in compensatory damages to the applicant, and will pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the United States. 

“We continue to work to eradicate discriminatory and stigmatizing treatment of people with HIV based on unfounded fears and stereotypes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “The ADA clearly protects individuals with HIV and other disabilities from exclusion or marginalization, including in vocational schools, trade schools, and career colleges.”

“This is an important step by the leadership of Compass Career College to ensure compliance with the ADA,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana.  “The agreement that we are announcing today reflects the college’s commitment, and that of the Justice Department, to ensure full accessibility and opportunity for individuals with disabilities – including those with HIV – in the private educational setting.”

To read the consent decree and complaint or for more information on the ADA and HIV discrimination, visit www.ada.gov/aids.  Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, such as private schools, to provide individuals with disabilities (including HIV), equal access to goods, services, privileges, facilities, advantages and accommodations.  For more information about the ADA, call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.

Updated August 31, 2015