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could still be employed
Sep 30, 2001

i was recently let go from a company, allegedly due to downsizing. however, the reason i was chosen as 1 of 30 (10,000 employees/multinational) in my company to be let go was because i have had a tardiness issue which developed this year. this tardiness was due, mostly, to the fact that i have not been able to see a doctor on a regular basis. my direct supervisor has been aware, since i started over 2 years ago, of my hiv status. however, he did not grant me "reasonable accomodation" when i asked that i have a more regular "set" schedule so that i could be in town and be able to see my doctor once a month, as needed. am i covered under ada and have a review done by the eeoc?

Response from Ms. Breuer

Oh, how I wish you'd written at an earlier stage! It's so much easier to save a job than to pursue legal action after losing one. Okay, I just had to say that.

Do you have any documentation of your request for reasonable accommodation and your supervisor's refusal? If not, you may be stuck in a he said/she said argument that you cannot win. If you do have any documentation, then I encourage you to seek an EEOC review, or to talk with a local HIV-knowledgeable attorney. (To find such a person, call the American Bar Association's AIDS Coordination Project at 202.662.1025.)

Next time, whatever the outcome of this situation, I urge you to take these steps: 1. Submit your reasonable accommodation request in the form of a note from your physician. Make sure the note only talks about your functional limitations and the suggested accommodation, NOT your diagnosis. 2. Submit the note to HR, not to your immediate supervisor. Nobody trains line supervisors in reasonable accommodation, so they often respond poorly. 3. Negotiate the accommodation with HR or with your firm's occupational health nurse, if there is one. That person should then carry the agreed-upon accommodation to the supervisor and then should ask only one question of the supervisor, after a few weeks or months: Is the agreement working? That way the supervisor's job is to manage performance, yours is to fulfill all of the esssential functions of the job, your doc's is to document your functional limitations--in short, everyone does what s/he actually knows how to do well.

If you can think of a way to get this information to every working HIV+ person, please let me know, because it just tears me up to read about job losses that could have been prevented if people knew what steps to take. I wish you well, and hope you will write in again to let me know how you're doing.

Nancy



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