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Does ADA allow forced transfer of employees?
Oct 12, 2004

I have been under extreme pressure from my boss for quite some time. He has for that time period given me too many tasks for any one person to handle. I have tried to negotiate with him on reducing my work load a bit, which would be too much whether someone was HIV+ or not. I did not disclose my status to him. When he recently refused again to reduce my work load, I hinted at having a disability and possibly needing to use the ADA.

His response was, "this is a high pressure job. If you have a disability, maybe we should transfer you to another site."

The thing is, I don't want to be transferred to another site. If all I am asking for is a reduction in job tasks which is not extreme and I can handle 85-90% of the job duties and the tasks assigned me, is it legal for him to force me to transfer to another site or position?

Please let me know. The stress has contributed to my T-cell count dropping to 308 and my viral load to rise to almost 500,000 - although part of that is due to a medication treatment interruption given by my MD (I am now back on HIV meds).

And finally, do you suggest invoking ADA under this circumstance if the law will back me up to protect me from a transfer I do not want?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Do you have a written job description? Does it list the essential functions of your job? Are you able to fulfill all of its essential functions? Do you have a file of all of your performance reviews over the time you've worked for this company? If not, can you get copies from your HR file?

If you don't have a written job description, I suggest you begin with HR or a company officer who has HR as part of his/her portfolio, and ask for your written job description. Then, since your boss clearly knows nothing about the ADA, approach the HR director or that company officer and explain that you have a disability as defined by the ADA and need to work with that person and your doc to come up with an accommodation that allows you to fulfill all of the essential functions of the job. Don't expect your boss to negotiate an accommodation; he apparently hasn't been trained, and he is unfamiliar with the ADA.

He's a dangerous type to work for. Line up your documentation, choose your negotiating partner well (director of HR is best) and make it clear that you are not interested in a transfer. If you don't get satisfaction, I'd recommend working with a local attorney who knows HIV to get a clear, polite but firm letter out to your employer explaining that what you're asking for is fully within the law. (Ask at your local AIDS service organization about a qualified attorney.)Ideally, the HR director will work with you to develop an accommodation and will then advise your boss of the arrangement.

Do not disclose in this situation. They're not enlightened enough to do a good job with that.

And above all, please remember one of the mantras of this site: health first, job second.

I wish you well, and invite you to write again as things develop. I'd be glad to hear from you.



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