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Gay/HIV+ Discrimination at Work
Feb 18, 2004

I have worked for the same company for nearly nine years, but am consistently denied promotion to senior level while others are so promoted in two years. I perform the specifications outlined in each review, which are always excellent except for one new issue the management is always able to come up with and which they use to deny my promotion. After nine years, I am concerned that what is really going is is that I am being discriminated against because I am gay (I don't proclaim it but my coworkers know that I am) and because of my HIV status, which I have not informed my employer about but which I believe they have figured out due to my doctor's appts., which always fall within the realm of my sick time and I have never exceeded my sick hours or gone on disability. I regularly train people in my company who have been promoted above me long ago. Does this sound like an issue that could be pursued with a civil rights attorney? As an HIV positive person, I have access to free legal aid, but wish to proceed realistically and cautiously. I am not inclined to resign, as I have invested nine years in the company and have copies of all my paperwork which testify to my qualifications for promotion. Thank you!

Response from Ms. Breuer

Yes, from your description, this does sound like discrimination. Before going outside the company for redress, I recommend scheduling an appointment with the director of HR and laying out the case just as you have laid it out for me. Ask what the director thinks may be holding you back. Point out that you have a solid record of positive performance reviews, so something isn't right. Ask directly if the HR director is willing to help you develop a plan for your next well-deserved promotion. If, as you suggest, the sick leave is the issue, meet with your physician to develop a request for a reasonable accommodation that could be negotiated with your employer's HR person. If you are performing all of the essential functions of the job without a reasonable accommodation, then ask the HR person point blank what the problem is.

If you get malarky for an answer, point out that your concern for your career leaves you no choice but to seek the advice of an outside organization.



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