Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"BBC World Service"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
April 23, 2004

ARCHIVE: HIV Disability


INTRO: Cirque du Soleil has agreed to the highest settlement ever in the nation for alleged employment discrimination based on disability. The employee was HIV positive. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.

PLASKON: Matthew Cusick gave up a good job as a personal trainer to join the prestigious Cirq du Solei's Mystere show. The company's own doctors, said it's okay for him to perform despite his HIV-positive status. But Cusick said managers still called him a 'known safety hazard' and canceled his contract. Las Vegas freelance journalist Steve Freiss normally covers Cirq du Solie - but didn't cover this because he couldn't believe such a progressive company would do such a thing. He kept expecting the company to come up with other reasons for firing Cusick.

FREISS: No, in interviews they were very blunt, saying yes they were very concerned that he might bleed and give somebody HIV that is really 1980's

PLASKON: Lambda Legal Defense filed a complaint a year ago under the Americans with Disabilities Act for discrimination in employment and the story gained national attention from HIV and gay activist groups. But it wasn't until the past few months however, that Cirq asked experts and became convinced that HIV positive employees really pose no threat to others. So Cirq's Renee-Claude Menard says they offered Cusick his job back.

MENARD: Our mistake was not knowing, it's an education thing, not knowing the risks involved in HIV transmission

PLASKON: But Cusick declined the offer according to his attorneys because of the Public Hostility he had faced from cirq during the dispute. Today the company settled for 600 thousand dollars - the largest disability discrimination settlement on record at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hayly Gorenberg AIDS Project Director for Lambda Legal says Cirq could have learned from studies from the Olympics to the National Basketball Association

GORENBERG: That would have been strong evidence not only in policy but also in experience because we have over 20 years experience with HIV and millions of people involved in athletics but there has never been a case of transmission of HIV.

PLASKON: She says there are 900 thousand people in the U-S with HIV or AIDS

MENAGH: And they are working and not necessarily working desk jobs.

PLASKON: Employment discrimination based on HIV status remains one of the most common complaints Lambda fields from the public. Now Cirq hopes to be part of the solution. Under the settlement agreement the company will host annual anti-discrimination training for its employees world-wide, adopt a zero tolerance policy for discrimination based on HIV, and will the company hire HIV positive acrobats from now on? It says definitely.

Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR

See discussion rules.


Apr 4, 2009 | Drug Donation Program
Nevada lawmakers are debating the creation of a program that would help cancer patients get expensive prescription drugs for less.

Mar 13, 2009 | Budget Wrangling
As state lawmakers wrestle with Nevada's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, there are several plans afoot aimed at softening the next economic bust.

Mar 2, 2009 | Autism
The cost of treating children with autism can be $24,000 to $40,000 per child per year according to the Autism Coalition of Nevada. A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to help families pay for the care.

Feb 16, 2007 | Chinese New Year
This weekend marks a celebration of Chinese New Year. KNPR's Rick Andrews reports on how the holiday is being celebrated by the valley's growing Asian community.

Dec 7, 2006 | Food and Beverage
The economy of scale for food and beverage operations in Las Vegas means any edge in efficiency is real money. Rick Andrews reports on a software product scoring with food and beverage managers looking at the bottom line...and what you're likely to order.

Nov 15, 2006 | Global Gaming Expo
The Global Gaming Expo trade show and conference got underway Tuesday in Las Vegas. Vendors showcase their latest wares including new slot machines.

Nov 1, 2006 | Stardust Memories
When it opened in 1958 the Stardust was the world's largest hotel. Now, after more than 48 years, it's closed.

Sep 27, 2006 | Nevada Northern Railway
The 'Nevada Northern' is celebrating its centenial anniversary. News 88.9's Rick Andrews went on a tour of the museum with executive director Mark Bassett.

Jun 30, 2006 | Standing Up for Ringo
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley tells the story of how she saw the Beatles in Las Vegas in August 1964.

Jun 29, 2006 | Sports Supplements
From fortified cereals to energy drinks to serious sports nutrition, people are willing to spend lots money to supplement their diets. Rick Andrews reports on the business of sports supplements.

May 25, 2006 | Love
Wednesday Cirque du Soleil provided a glimpse of their much anticipated show based on the music of the Beatles. Flo Rogers reports on Love.

May 24, 2006 | Telecommunications
A Senate telecommunications bill currently being considered includes provisions on most everything, but some worry that controversial measures will derail the entire package.

May 16, 2006 | Nanotech
Universities across the country are spending millions to expand nano technology research...manipulating molecules 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Rick Andrews reports on nano research at UNLV.

Apr 24, 2006 | Earthscope
Hualapai Mountain Park, near Kingman, has been chosen by the National Science Foundation to be home to a seismic monitoring station. Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Apr 18, 2006 | Anatomical Donation for Science
In the second of two reports exploring innovative medical facilities in the Valley, Rick Andrews visits the Medical Education and Research Institute of Nevada in Henderson.

Apr 12, 2006 | Immigration Reform Stalled
Immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate is at a standstill. Many in the Republican Party blame Nevada Democrat, Senator Harry Reid for the impasse. Jill Morrison reports from Capitol Hill.

Apr 1, 2006 | New Plans for Nellis
The first of April brings news that a large piece of military land in Las Vegas may be redeveloped.

Mar 28, 2006 | Test Site Worker Compensation
Senator Harry Reid is trying to get compensation for Test Site workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but never compensated.

Feb 27, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alice Keys
Alice Keys has been active in the African American community for decades and known through her association with the Moulin Rouge Casino. Here's her recollection of meeting one of the great African Americans of the last century.

Feb 21, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe
When close friends interview each other, the stories are often more intimate and revealing than talking to a reporter. A case in point is Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe talking about their hopes for their adopted son.

Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.