Washington Post Profiles HIV-Positive Gymnast Fired by Cirque du Soleil
The Washington Post on Thursday profiled HIV-positive gymnast Matthew Cusick, who after being fired by the Canadian acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil has "vaulted from jock to AIDS activist" (Kaufman, Washington Post, 10/21). Cirque terminated Cusick's employment stating that his HIV status would "likely pose a direct threat of harm to others." The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in July 2003 filed a federal discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the troupe on Cusick's behalf. In April, the EEOC announced that Cirque agreed to pay Cusick $600,000, which is the maximum allowed for a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The settlement also mandates that the company keep its records open to EEOC for two years and adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy toward discrimination (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/23). As a result of the settlement, Cusick said he has become "the poster boy for HIV." He is scheduled to receive the annual "courage award" at the AIDS Walk Washington 2004 on Saturday, speak at the United States Conference on AIDS in Philadelphia on Sunday and later make two appearances in Indianapolis, the Post reports (Washington Post, 10/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.