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Lorenzo Taylor was denied employment by the U.S. Foreign Service because he has HIV. Taylor speaks three languages, graduated from the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service and easily passed the rigorous application process required to be a Foreign Service officer. Beginning in 2003, Lambda Legal represented Taylor in his efforts to seek justice in this case. We contended that the State Department’s policy barring all HIV-positive Foreign Service candidates violated the federal Rehabilitation Act. The Act prohibits the federal government from discriminating against people with disabilities. Shortly before trial was scheduled to begin, the State Department finally changed its outdated policy.


The U.S. Foreign Service—along with the U.S. military—stood out among federal employers by broadly blocking any job applicants with HIV from consideration. The federal Rehabilitation Act prohibits the federal government from discriminating against people with disabilities, including HIV.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

Lambda Legal’s discrimination complaint aimed to end HIV discrimination in the U.S. Foreign Service once and for all. The Department of State denied candidates for Foreign Service Generalist the individualized consideration they’re entitled to under federal antidiscrimination law.


  • September 2003 Lambda Legal files lawsuit in federal court arguing that the State Department illegally prohibits anyone with HIV from being hired as a Foreign Service Officer, regardless of applicant’s qualifications or health status.
  • April 2005 Federal district court rules in favor of the state Department, saying that the government should not have to accommodate Taylor by letting him use some of his sick and vacation leave, available to all Foreign Service Officers, to travel to see his doctor.
  • June 2005 Lambda Legal files an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
  • April 2006 Lambda Legal presents oral arguments in the case.
  • June 2006 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issues decision stating that Taylor presented “more than enough” evidence for the matter to go to trial.
  • February 2008 Less than two weeks before our trial date, the U.S State Department adopts new hiring guidelines and lifts its ban against hiring people with HIV as Foreign Service Officers, the case is closed.