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Focus On CommunityIberia

Pierce v. Ackal has its day in court

Thursday morning’s hearing comes after a long wait. Liam Pierce was given an offer for a job as a sheriff’s deputy at Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office on March 29, 2012, and then, less than a month later, after completing a medical examination, was told he would not be hired. It’s been over seven years for Pierce to seek justice.

Sheriff Louis Ackal’s lone attorney came forward saying it would be hard to argue in his favor without having Ackal’s deposition. Scott Schoettes, Liam Pierce’s attorney says Ackal’s testimony doesn’t change anything, “in our view, there really aren’t any facts to which that the sheriff could testify that would change the outcome of this case.”

The hearing lasted 20 minutes and the judge denied the motion to settle the case in court Thursday, and gave Ackal more time to provide a testimony before trial.

Schoettes expressed, “it’s a little frustrating to have this come in at the last minute” after saying Ackal was given several chances to provide a deposition.

I spoke with Liam Pierce on the phone, he recalls the hiring process, “I was extremely confident that I was going to be starting. When the offer got rescinded, it was like a punch in the gut.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act says a person can only be required to get a medical exam after an offer to hire is made. Pierce’s medical exam showed he is a person living with HIV. The offer was rescinded after Pierce’s medical exam results were given to the sheriff’s office which causes Pierce and his attorneys to believe, “[they], discriminated against him based on his HIV status and refused to provide him with his job after learning he was HIV positive.”

Pierce says people are only afraid of things they do not know, “this whole issue comes down to the difference between educated and ignorance.”

NEWS15 talked to Sheriff Ackal’s attorney, he says he’d rather not comment on the hearing any further than saying they agree with the judge’s ruling.