Nikko Briteramos just won a major legal battle against barbershop King of Kuts, who he claims discriminated against him because he was HIV-positive.
Briteramos, a personal trainer, was a regular at the establishment until the fall of 2017. That was 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.”
As a result, and after a lengthy court battle, Briteramos will receive $80,000, according to Out.com. A judge 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.
Briteramos’ lawsuit alleged that the barbershop’s denial of service violated the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
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, resulting in a judgment in the personal trainer’s favor.
Interestingly, 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.
At the time, he was only 19 years old and played college basketball. The case drew international attention as activists pointed out the racists and homophobic elements working via harsh partner-notification laws.
Briteramos later pled guilty to one count of “Intentional Exposure to HIV” and received a suspended sentence of five years, 120 days in jail, and 200 hours community service plus fines. He was eventually arrested for violating the terms of his probation for testing positive for marijuana and subsequently spent 18 months in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.