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Poff v. Caro

    Brief Fact Summary. A landlord refused to rent to homosexuals, fearing that they might become infected with AIDS.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. People with AIDS qualify as handicapped, so discrimination against them based on their handicap will be a violation of anti-discrimination laws.

    Facts. A property owner refused to rent to three homosexual males because he feared that they would later be infected with AIDS. The owner now faces a claim that he violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

    Issue. Is refusing to rent to homosexuals because they may one day get AIDS discrimination?

    Held. Yes.
    The Law Against Discrimination protects the physically handicapped against discrimination based on that handicap. A person with AIDS is handicapped because he faces a debilitating disease and the likelihood of an early death.
    Discrimination based on a perception of a handicap falls within the protection of the Law Against Discrimination.
    The fact that a homosexual is more likely to get AIDS is not a valid conclusion that those trying to rent an apartment will be infected with AIDS.
    Thus, a law that prohibits discrimination against persons with perceived handicaps proscribes the landlord’s actions.

    Discussion. AIDS is a severe disease, which this court considers to be a handicap. The handicapped, and those perceived to be handicapped, will be protected from discrimination when they try to rent property.


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