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HIV? You're FIRED
Nov 18, 2004

I've been in corporate marketing mgt 15+ years. I lost my dot.com job in 09/02 & landed a new ft job 04/04. I was being sexually harrassed & discriminated by a female surbordinate. In July, I finally told my boss and also shared my HIV status. My boss fired me days later stating "It just wasn't working out". HR followed up in writing stating I "had been put on 30-day notice" and other falsehoods.

(btw...I was ignored when I pointed out manual states spvsr, HR & employee-on-notice must sign/be provided copy.violation is grounds for dismissal)

Question:

1) I made $100+ but don't/barely qualify for unemployment. I'm enrolled in ADAP. Do I qualify for any other income/benefits?

2) I live in LA. Do you have any recruitment contacts?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Yipes, there are a lot of issues in here!

1. I have no idea why you disclosed your HIV status in a package deal with a complaint about sexual harassment, but it was an odd decision. The complaint puts you under the microscope anyway (yes, I know, it should put the harasser under the microscope even more!). Adding the HIV disclosure must have made them wonder what you were trying to accomplish. It looks as though they interpreted your package deal as a request to be separated from the company.

2. You are absolutely right about the illegality of how they let you go. How much you want to pursue that is up to you. That's a matter for the EEOC. They're in your phone book under the "government" section.

3. I'm glad you're enrolled in ADAP. As for other benefits, you say nothing about being unable to work. Please take the benefits question up with your local AIDS services provider, preferably one with good experience in benefits counseling. In LA County, you could go to either APLA or AIDS Service Center in Pasadena and get good counsel. There are many other agencies with which I'm less familiar, but LA is resource-rich.

4. APLA has a return to work program for people living with HIV. Call to ask for an appointment with Michael Van Essen at APLA--this is what he does all day.

5. Think carefully about why you disclosed your HIV status at work. If possible, make an agreement with yourself that you're not going to do that again. Stirring the pot for no good reason usually isn't a career-enhancing move. I know there are people who feel passionately about this from the other point of view, but mine is that there's plenty of difficulty in a relationship with an employer, and you haven't cited a compelling reason to increase it by disclosing. Okay?


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