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Discriminatory practises?.
Sep 25, 2014

Hello there.

Am wondering is there any advice/help that you could pass onto myself with regards to below. Firstly, apologies for length of query.

To start with could i just state that I'm sending this email from Ireland, though it involves an American based company.

I attended an interview in Ireland to work for a company providing spa services on cruise liners. During the interview I was asked do I have any condition that would stop me from carrying out the position applied for. I answered honestly to this - no. Several weeks later I received a offer of employment and a temporary contract, upgraded to a full contract on completion of a company medical.

Attached to the contract were the obligatory terms/conditions. One of these stated that if currently on any medication or; with an existing condition, then the company Dr should be informed. At this point I sent an email disclosing my status and, that I'm on Atripla medication. The reply was as follows:

"I am afraid that as you have a communicable illness, you would not be able to work at sea. If you became ill or lost your tablets and were 48 hours plus from land, this would a major problem". I questioned this and (whether this email was meant to be seen me, I honestly don't know) this is an email that I received:

"Dr .... confirmed Ste.... do not accept anyone with Hiv, due to the fact that the condition is likely to require constant monitoring and medical assistance".

I then emailed the recruitment manager for the cruise line company to ask if and what is the company's policy on employing people living with Hiv/Aids. Here is my reply:

"Ste.... does not have a policy on hiring people living with Hiv. Need to check with Dr .... to see if condition may affect maritime medical.

The reply that I received was:

"I an afraid that any communicable disease is a contraindication to working onboard a ship at sea. Therefore the applicant would fail the medical. Also, anyone with Hiv has to be regularly monitored at their own clinic. This is not possible if one is sailing around the world".

At this point I questioned the previous email, paraphrasing both the Norwegian Centre for Maritime Medicine (NCMM) and the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA). I again asked for both the company/company Dr's view on sent email. I received an email stating that Dr .... is on annual leave and I will hear back one he has returned. Inbetween this, there was an approaching deadline for me to deposit monies to the company for training/accommodation &, other costs. There was a four week window from my last email to the date of payment. I didn't receive a reply from the company so, an email was sent from me saying that:

"Due to the continuing lack of clarity around Ste..... policy in employing people living with Hiv to work on its cruise ships and; in light of Mondays deadline for payment in relation to training fee, I unfortunately have to withdraw my application to become a Ste.... employee".

I then received almost straight away this email:

"As you did not state at your interview that you had a medical condition and you signed the medical form to say the same Dr .... does not need to comment on this. As mentioned at your interview, all applicants must disclose they have a medical condition that may affect the medical".

I am in regular contact with Dublin Aids Alliance on this issue but, due to the complexities (Irish resident, company Dr based in England and, an American company.) this is an issue that we are finding hard to make any headway on.

Any advice/help on this if possible would be massively appreciated. Thank you ever so much.

Regards Danny.

Response from Mr. Chambers

I can understand your frustration not knowing what laws and rules govern your situation whether it is Ireland, The U.S. as base of the employer, or international rules of the sea. I think you might look to someone who knows international law. Perhaps AIDS organizations in major ports could give you referrals. Also, contact AIDS Legal Services groups in the U.S.

I did find brochures on HIV/AIDS on a seafarers' welfare site. a seafarers' welfare site. I honestly don't know if they would be helpful or not.

There is also a 2007 article on the discrimination against persons with HIV working at sea. It is old, but perhaps through the periodical you may be able to contact someone who is current in that area.

2007 article

I must say, using the excuse of being at sea far from refills of medication is a very flimsy, and probably illegal, excuse, unless it also applies to people with hypertension, which I seriously doubt. You can bet cruise ships do not check their paying passengers' list of medications.

Best of luck in your search.

Jacques


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