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Can this be kept secret?
Mar 24, 2005

I am a soon to be college graduate and I am getting a job in the lab at a hospital (no patient contact). The health form we have to fill out has a question that asks about whether we have or have had STDs. Since my HIV would qualify, I am very concerned. Can they ask such a question? Can I say no? I am concerned because there was an issue with a hostile boss several years ago who fired me because he was afraid I'd infect everyone. I'd like to avoid that. Is there anything I can do to keep this a secret?

Response from Ms. Breuer

They want to know about history of STDs?? Are they going to tell you theirs?

Sorry--that just seems so off the wall. I encourage you to respond to the question with something like "I have no condition that would interfere with fulfilling all of the essential functions of this job." That question doesn't sound legal to me, although I am not a lawyer.

Sorry about the experience with the hostile boss. May he be your last employer/jerk combination. Yes, there is something you can do to keep this secret (it's called "confidential" in the workplace): refuse to answer direct questions about diagnosis. Your ability to do the whole job is very much their business. Your medical file is very much NOT their business. Answer such nosy questions with general statements of your fitness to do the whole job. Then stop talking. Any attempt to tease out a diagnosis is, as far as I know, illegal. And when you get the job, do not tell anyone your status. Telling one co-worker is the equivalent of posting it on the hospital intranet. Telling a supervisor is often asking for trouble.



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