Doe v. Delaware County, et al,  5:22-cv-01405 (E.D.PA 2022)

Man with HIV reaches settlement with Delco prison that denied him a kitchen job

A man who had sued a Delaware County prison after he was denied a kitchen job because he has HIV has reached a settlement that will award him financial compensation and will result in changes to prison policies.

The 28-year old man, whose name was not released, was incarcerated in the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton from February through July 2020. In a lawsuit brought by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, Lambda Legal, and Langer, Grogan & Diver, the man alleged that Delaware County and the Florida-based GEO Group, which then ran the prison, denied him a kitchen job because he has HIV.

The suit alleged the prison also impermissibly disclosed his HIV status by handing a note to another incarcerated person to give to him saying: “You are not cleared to work in the kitchen because you have HIV [HIV triple-underlined].”  

Terms of the settlement were not released.

“This type of unlawful HIV discrimination and HIV disclosure happens all too often in the corrections context and goes largely unaddressed,” said Adrian Lowe, senior staff attorney at the AIDS Law Project. “Discrimination against people living with HIV is illegal. What is illegal on the outside doesn’t become legal behind bars.”

The lawsuit claimed that denying the man the opportunity to work in the kitchen because of his HIV status violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It also alleged that disclosure of his confidential HIV-related information violated Pennsylvania’s Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information Act.

“Today’s settlement sends a strong message of an incarcerated person’s right to confidentiality in their medical information,” said Richard Saenz, senior attorney and criminal legal system strategist at Lambda Legal. “The Americans with Disabilities Act has been clear that people living with HIV should not be denied participation in programs and opportunities available to other incarcerated people because of their disability.”

“We are proud to have been part of obtaining this result and of the changes that will protect other people in Delaware County from discrimination,” said Mary Catherine Roper of Langer, Grogan & Diver.

The plaintiff is represented by: Ronda B. Goldfein and Adrian M. Lowe of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania; Richard Saenz, Lambda Legal: John Grogan and Mary Catherine Roper of Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C.; and Scott A. Schoettes.  


June 24, 2022: Doe Amended Complaint

July 6, 2022: Delaware County Answer

July 7, 2022: GEO Group Motion to Dismiss

July 21, 2022: Doe’s Response to Motion to Dismiss

August 5, 2022: Order denying Motion to Dismiss

August 17, 2022: GEO Group Answer

November 1, 2022: US Department of Justice Findings

November 30, 2022: Motion to Proceed Under Pseudonym

November 20, 2022: Order granting Pseudonym Motion