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just plain uncomfortable with job search
Feb 15, 2012

Its an old question I know. Out on disability for 15 years now.At the time I became ill and was put on "emergency medical leave" and forced on cobra. Call it what you want. I was fired. Plain and simple. My meds last year alone were $38,000.00. Compliments of CDAP. What company in their right mind would hire me? I am not comfortable with omitting this huge issue in my life but I will to return to work. What is the best method for making sure they don't find out? I can be fired for lying about work history, however I will be "let go" when they find out the enormous cost of hiring me anyway. I was employee of the year at my last place of employment. So my resume looks like I went to jail or something. How does one explain this to a Human Resource director? Can I stop them from looking up previous Tax info or credit reports? Should I just wait to see what happens with health care reforms? A friend in my HIV support group jokingly says "apply for jobs everywhere and take a lawyer with you" Funny but not reasonable. Thank you for all you do for us. I really appreciate the service you provide for us and the time and energy you and the others put in to this and the other forums. Forging ahead...

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear Writer,

Your friend is right in one way: you have legal rights even in applying for a job and it's important to protect them! It is actually illegal for a potential employer to ask about your HIV status in a job interview, so if they do ask you do not have to answer. However, if you do choose to disclose, as long as you are otherwise eligible for an available job, you cannot be refused the job solely due to your status. Federal and state anti-discrimination law prohibit employers for taking adverse actions against employees or potential employees who are otherwise qualified. So if you have relevant experience and are capable of performing essential functions of a job, the "cost" of employing you simply cannot play a role.

My best advice to you now is to stay persistent! Look for job openings in your field and apply, apply, apply. I'd also suggest updating your resume with any volunteer activities you engaged in during your 15 year work gap. Think creatively, and take advantage of HIV/AIDS support organizations in your area who may be able to help you with your resume. When you do succeed in getting a job, you are correct that you mustn't lie on insurance forms. But whatever you write on those forms may not be adversely used against you, to fire you or "let you go." If you believe that you were not hired solely because of your status, or fired because of it, or experience any other prejudicial treatment by a potential employer, you can file a claim of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, your state Division of Human Rights or contemplate a private lawsuit. You can ask to have your job back in addition to money damages. I wish you good luck in this next chapter.


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