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company attacked by competitor using MY medical history!
Nov 21, 2004

I work as a manager for a small distributor of a specific application industrial machine. It is a close business with fierce competition. I have earned a reputation in this specific field.

I was diagnosed in 2001 and spent much of the next two years in personal and company battles but since I have returned to full health, earned promotions, and have the full support of my company up the ladder.

However during this same period our market changed. Two employees that were involved in illegal business practice with a former manager (since fired) have left and went to work for a direct competitor. Several contracted salespeople changed their affiliation to the competitor.

The two employees were informed of my condition formally with notice of privacy (I have informed the corporate and then individual employees) during their employment with my company.

The "lies and slander" that have been spread is being repeated to us thru clients. Much of it is leaned against the corporation or another manager still with us (its a personal gridge between them). However there are now words from a couple of clients stating them and their salespeople are telling clients that "he's good but he's not availablen or won't be around long" and are discussing details the clients would not repeat to our reps. The client reports did not include any specific description but they inferred that there was more that they were not willing to discuss (possibly because they understand the implications of being a source of this information??). I must assume that if customers that are loyal to us are reporting this then it is being said elsewhere.

Summary - former employees have revealed details of my medical condition to reps and clients and are using it to personally attack me, for the purpose of competition against my company.

Yeah I know I need a lawyer. I'm getting one for myself and the corporation is getting one. I wrote to you to see if there is more insight you can offer on what legal lines they are crossing and what rights I have to stop the spread of information and protect my privacy (beyond what I am doing now which the best performance I can give). I have spent the last two years proving that I am still the best, as I paraphrase Mark Twain when I say I'm busy proving the reports of my impending demise are quite exaggerated.

The other reason for writing is that I appreciate the information I get from this resource. I've fought a lot of battles the last several years when I wasn't sure I'd make it even this far. This problem may not be as serious as many here, and it may show the difficulties faced with this "tag", but I'm thankful that this is my major problem in life, it was a lot worse than this and I made it back and got my future back.

Now that I'm convinced I'm not going anywhere for a long time, and I'm back and beyond where I thought I'd be job-wise, I have to deal with this type of crap and it makes me mad. Basically people I thought were friends are now telling customers of mine that I won't be around long so they can make money.

I'm sure this is outside the normal issues of disability and workforce issues and probably crosses into unfair trade practices, but any "enlightenment" you can offer is appreciated. Legal time is expensive and I need to be armed the best I can before I take on this fight.

JUST so you know: Although I might succeed in stopping this spread of information, I might also open up a hornet's nest as the two former employees are still under potential litigation for the actions during their employment and their stealing of information. This is more than my privacy here, if I make a point and crush this purely for the principle I'll be the poster child so don't base all your suggestions on the premise that I may not be willing to reveal my situation to more people. This is just wrong and if I let it happen to me I let it continue for all of us and I have the will and the health and the resources to mount the fight. Arm me!

Thanks, suffering "exxagerated demise" syndrome

Response from Ms. Breuer

Dear Embodiment of the Mark Twain Remark,

This kind of case is one of the many reasons not to disclose at work, isn't it? Using knowledge of HIV status as a weapon in business is about as tacky as it gets. I'm so sorry that you're the target of this.

Your letter implies that you know you hold the trump card. If you choose to, you can co-opt the slime tactic by being very open about your status and remarking on how grateful you are for the great therapies that allow you to be so healthy and look forward to such a promising future. That would increase the likelihood that your "accusers" will look small, petty and vicious.

Beyond that, I can only advise you not to get in the way of a circular firing squad. Over time, clients do business with people they like and feel they can trust. Character assassination may win elections, but it doesn't win in business. So stand back, be your balanced, grateful, optimistic, trustworthy self and watch them take aim at their own feet.

Both choices lie open to you, and you seem prepared to take either. I truly wish you well.



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