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Firm Dissolving - Will New Company Take Me?
Nov 9, 2000

I'd like to thank you in advance for your help. In the past I have needed you and you've been most prompt and informative. My problem currently is the the law firm I have worked for for the past seven years is dissolving. The partner I work for knows my status, and though we have had problems off and on due to my being late because of drug side-effects, basically things have been ok. I am also in my second year of law school and have to leave fifteen minutes early to get to class. I work through lunch to make up any time lost. When he told me the firm was breaking up he specifically said "this does not apply to you," meaning I would go with him wherever he went. He is now saying that because I am frequently fifteen minutes late in the morning (stomach problems) he may not take me after all. I have doctors' notes confirming my problems and I did ask for an accommodation (which was turned down). My questions are (1) what can I do if he breaks his word and I'm left out in the cold in December; (2) can I bring suit for discrimination as my accommodation was turned down -I asked for someone to cover my desk for fifteen minutes in the morning; and (3)what should I do to prove that if I am not asked to join the new firm it is because of my status and his resistance to accommodating my medical needs? I believe he will try to hide behind a defense such as "they don't allow people to leave early to go to school." I know this can't be true. We are going to another law firm and I'm a law student. I would think that would be a plus for me. Thank you again.

Response from Ms. Gabriel

Wow! Law school *and* a full time job. You should be congratulated on your courage and stamina! You have done the right thing in identifying yourself as a person with a disability, bringing in a doctor's note, and asking for accommodation. I don't understand why the accommodation was refused. 15 minutes in the morning, being made up in the afternoon, certainly sounds reasonable to me. Did you negotiate this with the human resource professional? If not, go there first. Supervisors (whether or not an attorney) are not usually well-versed in negotiating reasonable accommodation. That's why the human resources department is there.

If you are still having trouble and being refused accommodation get it in writing and go to the nearest AIDS-related legal assistance program. If you don't know of one, contact a local AIDS service organization and they can help. Being a law student, I'm sure you understand the importance of seeking legal advice from an attorney specializing in the field of HIV/AIDS. I wish you strength (and good nutrition) in your life and in this issue.

Lynne Gabriel



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