Cirque du Soleil Settles HIV Discrimination Suit

April 22, 2004 ( - International circus and entertainment troupe Cirque du Soleil has reached a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in an employment discrimination case under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The EEOC reached the voluntary resolution with Cirque duSoleil through the agency’s conciliation process after investigating a charge of discrimination filed by Matthew Cusick , who worked as an aerial gymnast. Cusick alleges he was fired by the Montreal-based troupe because he was HIV-positive and the EEOC found “reasonable cause” that the company violated the ADA, according to a news release.

Per terms of the settlement, Cirque du Soleil agreed to pay $600,000 to Cusick and to appoint an equal employment opportunity officer to oversee the annual training of its employees on the laws enforced by the EEOC, with an emphasis on HIV/disability discrimination. Additionally, the troupe will post a notice in its workplace about the resolution of the case.

“When I was fired from Cirque duSoleil it was the worst day of my life,” Matthew Cusick who had brought the alleged discrimination to the EEOC’s attention said . “Today is nearly the exact opposite because I stood up for what I knew was right and changed one of the world’s most popular entertainment companies.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Cusick will receive $300,000 in compensatory damages, the maximum allowed for an individual under theADA; $200,000 in front pay; $60,000 in lost wages; and $40,000 in attorneys’ fees.