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HIV+ fired from dental position
Jun 23, 2004

I am an HIV positive dental assistant that was fired approximately 1 and a half years ago, after my status was disclosed by an old boyfriends new wife. I have a pending suit against her for disclosing my status, but am now considering a suit against my former employer. I had decided ,at first, not to pursue leagal action against my former employer based on my Christian beliefs. But I can no longer work in the dental profession, since he covertly let's other prospective employers that they may not want to hire me. I went back to school, and have been working as a nail technician for almost a year. It is difficult making a living and supporting myself through this profession, and is causing me constant financial and emotional stress. If it were not for my family, I would have lost my home and my transportation by now. But they can no longer afford to keep helping me. Can you refer me to an attorney or organization that could help me with legal advise, and/or referral?? I just think that maybe I need to make a stand for the next HIVer that loses their job... and that I shouldn't be under so much stress because of their ignorance.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Before another minute goes by, please call the AIDS Coordination Project of the American Bar Association at 202.662.1025. They can refer you to an HIV-knowledgeable attorney in your area. Your employer is the appropriate target of legal action, I would think (and remember that I'm not a lawyer). Pull together every shred of written evidence you can find about this. You have been severely wronged by an ignorant, vindictive employer who, among other things, should be reported to the state licensing agency for dentists.

There is NO REASON for you not to work in your field. NO REASON. If the AIDS Coordination Project is not able to refer you, please call the Bar Association in your state and ask for a referral. You do not have time for someone who needs to get up to speed on HIV-related discrimination--you need someone knowledgeable. Ask at your local AIDS service organization as well. You have reason, I believe, to expect to be made whole financially again by your former employer. What he did is illegal. What your old boyfriend's new wife did was weasely and subhuman, but what your employer did was illegal. Illegal. Got that? Now take it and go with it!

By the way, I understand your reluctance to sue based on your faith. Those values are solid. For that reason, you and your attorney could talk about giving your former employer an opportunity to make you whole financially and professionally out of court. But if he does not take that opportunity, remember that you are not seeking to settle a small dispute with a fellow believer. You have been deprived illegally of your livelihood, and your former employer's aggressive ignorance is forcing you to pursue a legal remedy. This is why the anti-discrimination laws concerning HIV exist.

Please write back and let me know what happens.



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