Fired HIV-Positive Gymnast Files Discrimination Complaint Against Cirque du Soleil
The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund on Tuesday filed a federal discrimination complaint against Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil on behalf of gymnast Matthew Cusick, who claims that he was fired from the troupe because of his HIV-positive status, the Chicago Tribune reports (Jones, Chicago Tribune, 7/16). Cusick said that he disclosed his status to the company shortly after being hired in July 2002. He underwent several medical evaluations and was found to be "in excellent health and considered fully able to perform with the circus troupe," according to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle. Shortly before he was to begin performing in the company's Las Vegas show "Mystere," Cirque sent him a letter terminating his employment because his HIV-positive status "will likely pose a direct threat of harm to others, particularly in the case of future injury." Cusick's attorney, Hayley Gorenberg, said that Cusick was denied the job "not because of sound science or rational concern for other employees but because of unfounded fear" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/15). "This is a legal matter," Renee-Claude Menard, a spokesperson for Cirque, said, adding, "We will have no comment until it follows its due course" (Chicago Tribune, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.