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HIV-positive firefighter alleges harassment

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POSTED March 9, 2015 9:05 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco firefighter filed a legal claim alleging that colleagues and managers harassed and discriminated against him after learning he tested positive for HIV.

Stephen Kloster, 40, filed a claim with city officials last Tuesday, The San Francisco Examiner reported Monday. If the city denies the claim, he can file a lawsuit.

Kloster said he lost 100 pounds and became ill five years after joining the San Francisco Fire Department in 2001. His health stabilized after doctors diagnosed him with HIV and he returned to work in 2007. He said that’s when the harassment began.

“They wouldn’t allow me to cook, they’d ostracize me,” Kloster said of his co-workers. “They’d make jokes, they’d say I was gay, that my girlfriend was a man.”

Kloster said he does not know how he contracted HIV but possibly was exposed while working on ambulance duty in 2003. During a call, he was splashed with blood while treating a patient.

The newspaper reported that the city’s human resources department declared in 2012 that his illness was work-related. The city attorney’s office and fire department declined to comment on the claim.

Kloster earned $110,000 in 2013. But after being put on light duty last year, Kloster has not been assigned to a firehouse. The fire department told the paper that Kloster remains an employee.

Kloster says he’s been disciplined twice by supervisors and suspended for confrontations he said started over discrimination he says is related to his HIV diagnosis.

 

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