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Lying while interviewing for a new job
May 20, 1997

I am looking for a job after being out of work and on disability for one year. I would like to keep my HIV status private. How can I honestly explain what I was doing for the past year. I've been telling people I had to take care of my sick mother. Is there some way my employer will discover my status--i.e. if I get the job through health insurance or life insurance forms?

Response from Ms. Breuer

I took your question to an attorney at EEOC who specializes in these issues. The attorney recommended that you explain the gap in your employment history in these words: "I was dealing with a family illness." It's absolutely true and helps you to avoid lying in the interview. If you get the job, and if your medical and life insurance benefits are on group policies through your employer, then you will not have to complete detailed applications for either as far as I know. Even when you begin to use the health insurance plan for HIV-related visits, your employer should receive only summary data from the plan, not data tied to any one name. Linking a name to a condition is a violation of the confidentiality of medical information. Worst case scenario: even if your employer were to learn of your HIV status through a poorly-constructed insurance plan reporting process, your employer cannot terminate your employment simply because you have HIV.

- Nancy Breuer

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