Nov 15, 2001
Thanks for your time. I'll try and kep it short but I tend to be a little verbose. Recently, I graduated from the police academy (top of my class), and I began applying for officer positions. The final step of employment in many CA, depts.is "successful completion of a department medical exam". I've been told this would include an HIV test. I'm scared to death. I've had risky sex before. Yet, my fear is not so much that of being infected, but not being able to be a cop if I should, unfortunately, test positive. I plan on getting tested anyways, but I wanted it to be more on my terms. My question is focused on the legal aspect. Is this type of pre-employment testing legal in CA? From my understanding Asymptomatic HIV infection is not protected under the ADA, therefore would there be a gap in protection from discrimination? What would successful completion of a pre-employment medical exam look like anyway? I mean if I was positive, but asymptomatic, wouldn't I still successfully complete the exam (everything else being fine medically)? And finally, should I test positive can you refer me to any legal assistance in CA? I just want to be a cop, and a role model, and I'm not even sure if I'm infected. Thanks for your time.
Response from Ms. Breuer
You have a great set of questions here. I do not know CA police department pre-employment testing policy, but I know who does: POST, the police/sheriff's department training organization in Sacramento. For years, they've been running an HIV training that includes this information. I don't have contact information for them anymore (it's been a few years since I was in touch), but I believe the Sacramento Chapter of the American Red Cross can put you in touch with them. Ask for the person who works with POST, or who specializes in information about HIV.
Obviously your best preparation is knowledge. In addition to calling POST, it's time for you to get an HIV test on your own, anonymously, so you'll know how to make your next move.
In some situations where the job involves risk of exposure, such pre-employment testing may be legal. That's a POST question.
Asymptomatic HIV infection actually is protected under the ADA, as far as I know, and I happen to know of several HIV+ police officers in the Southern California area right now. As I understand it, they would be protected if their jobs were threatened over the HIV issue as long as they are able to fulfill all of the essential functions of the job.
The best legal assistance in So. California for this situation would be David Schulman, Supervising Attorney, HIV/AIDS Discrimination, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. David is charged with advising the city on all aspects of workplace HIV, including HIV infection among police, paramedics and firefighters. If David is not available, call AIDS Project Los Angeles and ask for the legal department. I wish you well, and please let me know how this goes for you.
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