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husband being forced to quit
Sep 19, 2005

my husband is hiv & hep c+ for over 10 years, working full time and was laid off after 18 yrs. now working off the books part time and the mgr just found out my husband is hepc+.proceeded to tell all coworkers and now my husbands rep is ruined. what is my recourse? any help please, my husband is a very very good man and is only trying to do the right thing by us but i cant stand to see him humiliated and try to hide his embarrassment. do i have any legal recourse? thank you in advance.

Response from Ms. Breuer

The best recourse is not telling your employer your status in the first place. How did the manager learn your husband's status? That's one issue. The employer had no right to share the information and is subject to big fines for having done so, but those fines wouldn't be payable to you. Going after the employer would take you down a road where you and your husband may not want to go. If you do want to explore it, contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity office to ask how to proceed.

But my biggest concern is how whipped you sound. Why is your husband's reputation ruined? Lots of wonderful people have HIV and/or hep C. I encourage you and him to hold your heads up high and not apologize for his diagnosis. People can't let you feel bad about his condition unless you allow them to.

Is he still working part time for this sleazeball? If so, I encourage him to make an appointment with the head of human resources (who should know the laws concerning confidentiality), remind that person of his confidentiality rights at the beginning of the conversation, and ask that person's advice about how to proceed, given that the employer has vioated his privacy rights. The HR person should know what kind of tinderbox they're sitting on if someone is blabbing confidential medical information. That puts the relationship on a more professional footing and makes it clear that your husband isn't going to slink away with his tail between his legs. And asking for advice about how to proceed is not the same thing as making threats to sue. Be sure he doesn't fall back on making threats. Make the goal this: to make the relationship with the employer work so he still has income and respect.

I wish you well.



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