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HIV positive deli-worker asked to switch jobs
Oct 13, 2004

I worked at a department store for almost a year about one year ago. It came out after being there for many months that I was HIV positive. The store manager asked if I would consider moving to the toy department because he thought customers might have issues with someone in the deli who was HIV positive. I was offered another job at a local ASO luckily and I left the job... I guess my question is, should I have pursued any legal action against the department store for even asking me to change positions. Can I still pursue legal action?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Let me tell you about "pursuing legal action." It takes years. It's endless paperwork. You still need an income in the meantime. It costs huge amounts of money. It's a last resort. Justice does not always prevail.

You were asked an ignorant question by an ignorant store manager. I would recommend the response of insisting on HIV education for a workplace where a store manager could make such a request without blushing. You didn't have to bail. You could have insisted, truthfully, that you pose no threat to a deli customer. If the store manager had pressed you, you could have had your local ASO write a clear, firm letter about discrimination and needless worry.

How did it "come out" that you're HIV positive? If you disclosed it (how else would it come out?), please reflect on how carefully that needs to be done, and with what research into how much they know about HIV and how they're likely to react.

I encourage you to consider the whole episode a "college education," as they say, and move on.



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