A Durham nail salon discriminated against an HIV-positive customer by denying him pedicures and must pay $7,500 in compensation, according to a settlement with the U.S. government.
Tweetie Nails, which does business as Diva Nails on South Roxboro Street, must also adopt and post a non-discrimination policy that includes disabilities such as HIV and AIDS.
All salon staff must be trained about HIV/AIDS and disability discrimination in general, said the June settlement, which the US Department of Justice posted publicly Tuesday.
“The United States has determined that Diva Nails discriminated against the complainant by denying him nail services because the complainant is HIV-positive,” the settlement said. “Diva Nails has not shown that treating the complainant would have posed a direct threat to the health or safety of others.”
The settlement grows out of a complaint from the unnamed customer, who was paying for his pedicure when another customer he knew from church asked loudly if the salon “knew about his condition,” the settlement said.
“The owner of Diva Nails followed the complainant outside, allegedly told him that the owner knew the Complainant had ‘AIDS,’ and told the complainant not to come back to the salon,” the settlement said.
“Diva Nails denies that it refused the complainant future services, but admits that its manager asked the complainant whether he was HIV-positive, and requested a doctor’s note or other documentation.”
The settlement cites the Centers for Disease Control, which says people can only contract HIV through sex; by direct contact with blood, organs or other tissues; or through a birth mother.
North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners says salons must clean and disinfect all workstation surfaces and tools between clients.
Tuan Ahn Trang, the member-owner named in the settlement, could not be reached Wednesday. After several unanswered calls to Diva Nails, an employee suggested reaching him on Thursday.
With the settlement, the case is closed without civil action.