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Manager needs advice
Mar 9, 2003

Hello Nancy here is my situation and some of the questions I need answered. Recently an employee ingformed me of her HIV/AIDS status. She is a food server in the cafeteria. She also told me that she told one of the other employees that she might never be back to work. The other employees are constantly asking me what is going on with her. This individual had worked with me for 5 years and she is an excellent employee. What can I do in this situation does her HIV status pose a health risk given her job anymore than a person without AIDS would. I am pretty sure that it is not my place to tell the other employees of her condition besides I think its would be wrong and it is aslo probably illegal too. I just do not want to start a panic in the workplace becasue I fear that everyone will develop their own uneducated opinions and it will be nearly impossible to show them the truth. The company I work for is in New York I now the laws form state to state varies in cases such as these so is it a good thing that I am in New York...please help

Response from Ms. Breuer

Your instincts are great. First of all, there is no reason for this employee not to be working for you if her general health is good. You are already under the mandate of public health laws that describe how you must handle human blood in a food service environment. Those laws apply to everyone. She does not pose a threat to anyone at work. If she bleeds, you handle that the same way you would handle any blood spill. Period.

Second, no matter how much other employees ask, you have no right to disclose what she told you. Yes, that disclosure could be grounds for legal action, so continue to keep your mouth closed about her diagnosis.

Third, New York laws are clear and up-to-date. You're right; it's good to be in New York.

Now here's my advice: call the employee, read to her what I've written to you, and invite her to return. Encourage her to maintain her privacy by refusing to answer nosy questions. The fact that people want to know does not mean they have a right to know, even though (after all, you ARE in New York!) some may insist that they do have a right.

She's fortunate to have you for an employer, and she does NOT have to leave a food service job. Please encourage her to visit this website if she can to learn more about her situation and her rights.

I would love it if you could take a moment to let me know how this turns out.


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