Nikko Briteramos, a personal trainer, was a regular at the King of Kuts until a barber disclosed to the shop’s owner that Briteramos has HIV. When Briteramos came in for a scheduled October appointment, the barber came out to him and informed him to leave and not return to the shop.
“‘Don’t worry about the other times I cut your hair, but I can’t cut your hair anymore. I have a lot of celebrity clientele,’” Ramos recounted about the exchange. “After that, he shook my hand, and I looked at him, and I just kind of walked away.”
Nikko then brought lawsuit against the shop alleging that the acts violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act but the suit was never answered in court.
King of Kuts reportedly never responded to the suit, prompting Briteramos’ legal team to request a default judgement earlier this year. The shop also did not respond to that request. The lack of response resulted in Judge Andre Birotte Jr.’s judgement.
After a lengthy court battle, Briteramos will receive $80,000, according to Out.com. Judge Andre Birotte Jr.’s ruled last week that the barbershop will also need to pay out $75,000 in additional court fees to the plaintiff, who filed a lawsuit against King of Kuts in 2018 alongside Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal rights advocacy group.
This isn’t the first time Briteramos has been in court over his HIV-positive status. Back in 2002, he was part of a high-profile South Dakota case in which he was sentenced to prison for exposing his then-girlfriend to HIV.
However this judgement puts businesses on notice that discrimination will not be tolerated.