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HIV disclosure during probationary period
Jun 8, 2001


I am a new employee with a local government in California. My new job has a probationary period of one year. I am able to perform all of the functions of the job, however because of hiv fatigue and medication related fatigue I expect that I will not be able to adhere to the attendance standards. My job requires me to me out doors on my feet all day. I don't expect that I will miss a lot of time, perhaps 2 days a month due to my hiv status, the sick policy allows for 12 days per year. I understand that Family Medical Leave only kicks in after the first year of employment. If I let the H.R. department know about my disability would the fact that I probably will not have standard attendance be considered not being able to perform all the basic functions of my job. Or would it be considered reasonable accomodation to let me have the additional leeway in attendance. I am very afraid to aproach this issue while on probation, however I am afraid I will be fired for bad attendance during the probationary period if I don't disclose my disabled status.

Thank you

Response from Ms. Breuer

This is a really important question. And you're smart to be asking it before you have a long list of absences.

I suggest you take this in stages. While you're on probation, see whether you can keep absences to one a month. If you can, you'll move through the probation period without having to request an accommodation for something that isn't a problem yet.

If you do see a pattern developing that could become a problem with excessive absences, please plan your approach to your employer. Remember that you don't have to disclose your diagnosis. Here are the ideal steps to take: 1. Obtain a note from your treating physician explaining that because of disability-related fatigue, you are requesting a reasonable accommodation in the form of an additional day of sick leave each 30 days. No diagnosis in the note, please. 2. Submit the note to the director of human resources or employee health, not to your supervisor. Supervisors generally do not receive training in negotiating reasonable accommodation. Submit it in person, and have a conversation about it then. Explain that you take medications which induce fatigue sometimes. Identify yourself as a person with a disability. You do not need to identify the disability, even if you're asked. 3. Encourage a 3-way conversation with your physician, HR and you. HR should then take whatever agreement you reach to your supervisor. 4. Then your supervisor's job is to make sure that, accommodation or none, you're fulfilling all of the essential functions of the job. And your job is to focus on those functions--getting the job done. If you come across a glitch in that process, please write again, using the same header in the subject line. Good luck to you.

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