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


PHILADELPHIA (March 6, 2024) – 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. 


Founded in 1988, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit public-interest law firm providing free legal assistance to people living with HIV and those affected by the epidemic. 

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and policy work.

Langer, Grogan & Diver P.C. is dedicated to seeking social and economic justice for consumers and small businesses. The firm’s expertise is class actions and other complex litigation, which they pursue in state and federal courts across the country. Based in Philadelphia, Langer, Grogan & Diver is the go-to law firm for antitrust and consumer litigation, as well as law in the public interest.