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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Man With HIV Wins $75K Lawsuit After Barbershop Refuses to Cut His Hair

Man with HIV wins lawsuit against barbershop

Los Angeles, CA — King of Kuts, a barbershop in Los Angeles, California, has been slapped with a court order to pay more than $75,000 to Nikko Briteramos after refusing to cut his hair because he is HIV positive.

Briteramos filed a discrimination lawsuit last year against the barbershop, claiming he was denied their services despite him being a regular customer before when the owner learned he has HIV. He was represented in the court by Lambda Legal, a national group that advocates for the LGBT community and all people living with HIV.

The court sided with Briteramos and ordered the barbershop to pay him $75,000 plus attorney’s fees and legal costs.

Briteramos, who is now 35-years old, has been living with HIV since he was 19. His case inspired Lambda Legal to partner with the Black AIDS Institute to launch the ‘Cut the Stigma’ campaign that aims to address HIV-related discrimination and myths in the African-American community.

“Nikko’s experience highlights how Black people living with HIV are confronted with discrimination every day, but this judgment puts businesses on notice that discrimination will not be tolerated,” said Raniyah Copeland, Black AIDS Institute CEO, in a Lambda Legal Press release about the judgment. “Freedom for Black people means that ALL Black people deserve to live without fear of discrimination.”

As part of the campaign, they will encourage barbers and other people across the country to engage in issues about HIV awareness and education in hopes to eliminate discrimination.

“This ruling is a terrific affirmation for our client, and it is a clear and forceful rebuke of intentional discrimination against people living with HIV,” added Anthony Pinggera, the Lambda Legal Law Fellow leading this case. “This is the end of Nikko’s case, but our work to raise necessary awareness in Black communities around the country to the ongoing issues surrounding HIV discrimination continues through our partnership with the Black AIDS Institute on the ‘Cut the Stigma’ campaign.”

Briteramos was happy with the outcome of the case and he wanted more people to be educated about it. He was featured in a video for the ‘Cut the Stigma’ campaign.

“This judgment is proof that what happened to me in that barbershop and what happens to people living with HIV who experience discrimination just trying to do basic things in life like go to the dentist or get a haircut is simply not acceptable,” said Briteramos in the release. “Such discriminatory practices harken back to times not too distant during the period of American ‘Jim Crow’ and are equally unjust. I am even more grateful that I can continue to tell my story through the ‘Cut the Stigma’ campaign and share with people how harmful these moments of discrimination can be to those living daily with HIV and to the fabric of society.”