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Workers Accommodations, HIPAA, FMLA
Oct 31, 2012

I recently inquired with my job in Texas regarding early leave to attend doctors appointments. I was informed that I would be unable to leave due to already exhausting my PTO hours for the year. I have only been on this job for approximately 8months and I was informed that I had to at least be on the job for 1year and completing 1900 hours. I understand these regulations; however, I only as recent as 2months ago found out my HIV status. I have several upcoming doctors appointments to attend in order to determine if I need medication and my over health status. They are requesting that I disclose my ailment to accommodate me, which I feel is a breach of my privacy rights. Can you please advise?

Response from Mr. Chambers

Generally, if a disability is not obvious or is already known, an employer may require additional medical information in order to provide Reasonable Accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That law applies to employees working for an employer with 15 or more employees.

However, that is medical information which is protected under other federal (and state) laws so if you decide to provide them more medical information you should make clear who in your company will get that information. Generally that should be only the HR manager or whoever in your company is responsible for seeing that ADA is followed in your workplace. Supervisors don't need to know the reason, just that you are permitted to leave early on certain days.

Prior to doing that, however, I suggest you provide the employer with a note from your treating physician that says something like, "M. Kim Jones has a serious medical condition that falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Due to that condition, s/he will occasionally need to leave work early for doctor visits. Please grant him this reasonable accommodation."

Give that a try and see if that works. If they insist on knowing exactly what the condition is, you have a right to know who will get that information and what protections are made by the employer to insure your right to medical confidentiality.

Good luck, Jacques

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