Man Receiving Haircut in Barber Shop

Source: Guy Cali / Getty

With so much stigma and ignorance that exists about the auto-immune disease, HIV-positive folks might often have a hard time dealing with rude comments, and outright discrimination from certain businesses.

According to Into, Nikko Briteramos claims the owner of King of Kuts barbershop in Los Angeles told him he couldn’t serve positive people because he was scared that his celebrity clients would find out.

Before this, Briteramos was a regular at King of Kuts — but then his former barber from Chicago started working at the shop last October. When Briteramos walked into King of Kuts, his former Chicago barber wrongfully disclosed to the owner of the shop about Briteramos’ status.

“When it should have been Nikko’s turn, Rambo, the owner of King of Kuts, came outside to speak with him,” his lawsuit states. “He told Nikko that he would not cut his hair and the shop could not serve him because of his HIV status.”

Briteramos said he expected to come across this response from people, but that doesn’t mean he’s going down without a fight.

It was a small loss, maybe even a greater loss of dignity to some degree, but I’m tough enough to battle that,” said Briteramos. “But the fact that it was presented to me as this sort of matter of fact, like anyone would do the same sort of way, that’s what gave me the impression that this was a broader social issue.”

Briteramos’ suit alleges that the barbershop violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s non-discrimination law. The lawsuit has been filed alongside the launch of a new public education campaign by Lambda Legal and the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) that aims to reduce stigma around HIV in Black communities.

“In addition, as a Black organization, we have to be ever vigilant in confronting injustice,” said Phill Wilson, CEO and founder of the Black AIDS Institute. “It is part of our survival. We fight those injustices to survive — and this is a case about injustice. It’s about bias. It’s about bigotry. It’s about discrimination. We have an obligation to be at the forefront oft hat effort; that’s essential.”

King of Kuts has yet to comment on the lawsuit.