Legal Highlights

Reflections on 25 Years of Service

We’ve fought the good fight for twenty-five years. We’ve battled stigma and advocated for people living with HIV and AIDS in courtrooms and classrooms across the Commonwealth; we’ve helped shape policy, drafted HIV-related law and authored key publications. After 2 and ½  decades of service, the fight continues. As we march forward, take a glance back at selected AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania highlights. We hope you appreciate our work and continue to support the important history that has been laid by this vital effort.

Selected Highlights 

  • The AIDS Law Project brings suits against Pennsylvania physicians for secret HIV testing.
  • The AIDS Law Project files suit against a funeral home that allows a family to mourn over an empty coffin. 
  • The AIDS Law Project files suit against a dentist who refuses to treat patients with HIV/AIDS.
  • The Philadelphia District EEOC Office finds that limiting health insurance coverage based on HIV/AIDS violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • An AIDS discrimination case brought by the AIDS Law Project with the Justice Department against Philadelphia emergency medical technicians results in the first consent decree under the ADA.
  • The AIDS Law Project sues the 12th Street Gym for AIDS discrimination.
  • Our case, Doe v. Rite Aid/SEPTA, raises questions about the confidentiality of employee health and prescription information.
  • The Pennsylvania Legislature adopts the Standby Guardianship Law, proposed and drafted by the AIDS Law Project’s Parents with HIV/AIDS Project.
  • The AIDS Law Project negotiates a financial settlement for a Delaware County man who was fired from his job, after his partner was diagnosed with AIDS.
  • The AIDS Law Project fights name-based HIV test reports.
  • Client: A North Philadelphia man with AIDS, refused access to a bus because the driver doesn’t believe he is disabled, is financially compensated and the bus company adopts an anti-discrimination policy.
  • Client: An HIV-positive Peruvian man living in South Philadelphia is granted asylum in the United States, sparing him deportation to an antagonistic regime.
  • Names-based HIV reporting begins in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is exempted.
  • The AIDS Law Project sues a bus company whose driver attempted to deny service to a group of HIV-activists traveling to a rally in Harrisburg.
  • The AIDS Law Project wins a financial settlement from a dentist who refused to treat a man with AIDS.
  • The AIDS Law Project wins a liver transplant for an Altoona man for whom Medicaid denied coverage. HIV is removed from the state’s list of “life-limiting conditions” as a result.
  • The case of M. Smith v. Life Partners draws international media attention to the work of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. The company had threatened to stop paying the client’s health insurance premiums.
  • We persuade Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs not to enforce regulations that conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) preventing people with HIV/AIDS from working in a number of fields, including barbering and cosmetology.
  • The AIDS Law Project settles a major ADA suit against the City of Philadelphia Emergency Medical Technicians, in which the City agrees to pay significant damages to the client, adhere to a nondiscrimination policy and train all personnel on infection control and HIV/AIDS transmission.
  • The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania negotiates another settlement in the unlawful firing of a food-service worker who has HIV.
  • After our policy work, Pennsylvania decides to allow pharmacy sales of hypodermic needles and syringes without a prescription in an effort to help reduce the spread of HIV and of hepatitis C.
  • Life Partners settles the M. Smith lawsuit for $250,000, allowing her to arrange for her own health insurance.
  • We “clear the path” for domestic partners to take advantage of a Philadelphia law exempting city tax on property transfers.
  • The AIDS Law Project wins another liver-transplant case for a client with HIV who had been denied by Medicare.
  • We won more than $60,000 for a client who had been wrongfully kicked out of a personal care home because she has HIV.
  • Our work resulted in a financial services company being ordered to pay retirement money of a deceased doctor to his longtime partner, as he had intended, instead of his ex-wife, from whom he had been divorced for 25 years.
  • The AIDS Law Project persuades the state of PA to revise regulations on occupational and professional licensing to protect workers and job applicants that have HIV.
  • We win a settlement for an HIV-positive single mother of four fired from her job at a snack-food manufacturer after her supervisors found out her status.
  • The AIDS Law Project negotiates a settlement in the case of a national health care staffing firm that took back a job offer from an HIV-positive nursing assistant after learning he has HIV. In addition, the firm agrees to change its hiring policies.
  • A 14-year-old and his mother, both our clients, receive $700,000 from the Milton Hershey School in a federal AIDS-discrimination lawsuit settlement after the school refused to admit him solely because he has HIV.

For more, check out the Fall 2013 edition of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania’s newsletter, Good Counsel.