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VP being Nosey
Nov 9, 2000

I work within the medical research industry and have been HIV+ for 11 years. I'm very health, CD4s are 800 and no viral load detectable. I have had a bizarre year with my health. Pancreatitis, two bouts with the flu (severe), and yes i had my flu shot. It meant i lost over 15 days for illness. My company policy is stated as having unlimited sick days, not to exceed 6 consistent days without DRs notes. I had these Dr notes. When I arrived back from have my second bout with the flu my manager who pulled me aside told me the VP of my division has been poking around with my co-workers about me being sick, and trying to find out the cause. Most of my immediate co-workers and managers know that I am HIV+. They told me to watch out, that she might look for a reason to fire me. They told me, even though she couldn't fire me for being HIV, she could dig up other reasons. The VP has been asking my managers has my absences affected my work. In my defense they told me that my work is outstanding. How should I handle her prying?Thanks

Response from Ms. Gabriel

You said that most of your immediate co-workers and managers know that you are HIV+ -- have you identified yourself, to Human Resources, as a person with a disability (even if many people at work know your status, you need not disclose it to HR)? This should be your first course of action, as it would set the stage for any future accommodation. Next, talk with your physician about any functional limitations to your job. Remember, you must be able to complete the essential functions of your job -- with or without an accommodation. If your absences prevent you from doing this, it's a performance issue.

I would advise you to visit the Workplace Resource Center at the National AIDS Fund website ( and order their publication, "What About My Rights?", There is also a booklet on managing disabled employees that would help your supervisor(s) and you. Good luck and write again if you need more information.

Lynne Gabriel

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