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Shady Boss Forcing My Resignation?
Sep 23, 2002

If possible, I'd like for this not to be posted. Some legal advice would be great.

I have had HIV/AIDS for ten years, and my boss knows that. She's given me guilt trips and has even given me a nervous breakdown that she's broadcast on speakerphone while coworkers were in her office. I was approved time off to take care of a personal matter (I didn't realize it until the end). In the middle of my crisis at home, she berated me for taking time off inappropriately, then called me five minutes later as sweet as can be asking me to come in to turn on the computers since they had a blackout. Thats when I broke down.

It's never an appropriate time to have off of work, but I haven't seen my doctor in over six months because of it. I've even been forbidden to go on vacation (which I have taken in the past to adjust to new treatment) and am frowned upon for leaving the office to pick up lunch.

I've been ill the past two months with fevers on and off, yet still go to work. I work more hours than anyone else in the office including while I eat lunch. It's very important that I see my doctor. I have 90 of my vacation time and 100 of sick time available until the end of the year when I lose it, but it's never an appropriate time to be away from work.

Whenever I approach her on the comments she's made, I'm told she was just joking or it gets turned around on me for taking her too seriously. When we started this company, before we all had insurance, she told me the company would pay for my insurance, but I would have to get my own policy outside of our group plan because I would would make their premiums skyrocket. I was appalled. I administer the healh insurance benefits for the office, so I made sure I was enrolled with everyone else, although she forgot that she told me the company would pick up the cost. It turns out that my premium is the least expensive of everyone's in the office, so when I made a stink about it, she later agreed to pick up the cost after having checked "her notes".

No one else in the office has this problem. In fact, I cover for a receptionist who is allowed to see her gynecologist. Others have had breast implants, dentist appointments and weddings they have been given permission to go to. My boss arrives 2 hours late every day and has taken over a week off to recover from cosmetic surgery.

Am I being paranoid, or does anyone else feel like maybe she's reaching for a way to make me quit because of my health condition?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Please print this out where you can see it every day, and say it out loud to yourself: MY HEALTH COMES FIRST. MY JOB COMES SECOND.

Regardless of your HIV status, you are indeed being discriminated against because indentured slavery is illegal in this country. I strongly recommend this course of action, since it's gone so far:

1. Write your boss a quick, cheerful note indicating that you'll be out on Tuesday for X hours for a long-overdue medical appointment. Mention in the note how many hours of leave time you have available to you. Indicate that so and so will cover for you during your absence. Keep it brief and professional.

2. On the bottom of the note (not handwritten--this is a formal document) enter, "cc: File. cc:(Name), Attorney at Law."

That's it. Use a real name of a real attorney you've been referred to by your local AIDS service organization. Send the cc to the attorney--just for his/her file. Start a file ofo your own with all documentation of what's going on. Be completely professional in everything you put in writing from now on.

This job may not be worth keeping because of the extent of abuse you've received, but until you find your way to a new one or become independently wealthy by suing this company (assuming you have great written records documenting discrimination and 5 years of your life to spend on a lawsuit), it's what you have. HIV does not sentence you to being a doormat. It's irrelevant to your employment.

MY HEALTH COMES FIRST. MY JOB COMES SECOND.

Si? Good luck. You can do this. You're smart. You spelled "appalled" right. You have marketable skills. You are not a second class citizen.


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