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to disclose or not to disclose
Mar 24, 2012

Diagnosed in February of this year. I have been employed with a small mom and pop sort of place. The owner, his wife and 4 sons all are very religious, kind people. But extremely conservative. I'm talking not having sex before marriage people. I've read the answer to this question suggesting that is all up to me whether.I want to tell the VP. My question is if I disclose my status to him and can he turn around and tell the owner? For some reason I think they may know because the agency that manages the health insurance benefits is close friends with the family. I think that if they already know and I don't officially tell them it would look like I'm being dishonest. I have not told anyone at all so I'm really confused about this whole thing and have nowhere to turn. please help me...Thanks!

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear Writer,

Thank you for submitting your question. As an employee, you have no obligation to disclose your HIV status to your employer. Employees do have an obligation to answer health insurance questionnaires truthfully and it sounds like you have done just that.

You are not being dishonest if you fail to apprise your employer of your status. Your employer has no reason or right to know your status unless your medical condition directly affects your job.

In general, after you commence employment, your employer has only extremely limited ability to ask about your medical conditions. Employers may inquire about your medical situation if you are not performing essential job duties up to par AND he reasonably thinks this is directly related to a medical condition. An employer may also inquire about your disability if he reasonably believes you are a "direct threat" in your place of employment. Again, this is incredibly limited and rarely should apply.

Regarding confidentiality, if you disclose to the VP without a written consent form he can share your information with the company's owner. However, if you disclose your status pursuant to a written HIV release form (listing the VP in his individual capacity) he is generally obligated to keep your HIV information confidential.

If you do disclose and you are treated unfairly as a response, you probably have some remedies under state and/or local anti-discrimination law. The Americans with Disabilities Act is applicable where an employer has 15 or more employees. So a small "mom and pop" employer such as yours would be governed under the scope of state or local anti-discrimination statutes, if any exist. Check out the official websites for your city, county and state to learn what kinds of anti-discrimination protections exist in your home town.

Whatever decision you make I wish you good luck!



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